Senin, 31 Desember 2012

Allegri: Focus on youth is right track for AC Milan

Massimiliano Allegri - Milan

Focusing on youth and being financially prude is the right road for AC Milan to walk, according to head coach Massimiliano Allegri.

The Italian giants sold Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain in the summer for huge sums of money, but have suffered in Serie A with player departures and sit seventh as of the winter break.

Allegri pointed at Uefas Financial Fair Play rules as one of the reasons to not splash cash without consideration, and thinks that the club is doing great under the difficult economic circumstances.

"We are on the right track by focusing on youth," the coach told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"We are building a new Milan, so this is an achievement that takes time and passion. The president [Silvio Berlusconi] is right to take this route, as nobody in the current Italian financial crisis can afford wages of 7 million per season and stay within the Financial Fair Play rules."

Milan sit on 27 points after 18 games - five points behind sixth-placed Roma and trailing league-leaders Juventus by 17 points.

"I am happy with the number of points we have so far this season, even though we couldve had a few more," Allegri insisted.

"I end the year aware that I adapted to different situations. Intelligence can also be seen in someones ability to deal with changing scenarios. In difficult moments I am calm and not clouded by anxiety. Perhaps I kept my job because I was good at reassuring the club.

"I told them wed emerge from this situation and we are on the right track, although the game with Roma showed we are still not solid.

"I have a contract until 2014, but obviously Im happy at Milan and would gladly stay for longer. The challenge of getting back to the top within two or three years is exciting."

Alexandre Pato and Robinho look set to leave San Siro in the January transfer window, but the Rossoneri boss had not hing but praise for the attacking Brazilian pair.

"Will I be more disappointed if Pato or Robinho leaves? I have different feelings," Allegri continued.

"Pato has the potential to win the Ballon dOr, but I understand he needs to find that confidence he lost amid all the injuries.

"Robinho... what to say about Robinho? He is a player of a superior level."

Milan have been linked with a move for Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli using the funds raised from potential Pato and Robinho sales, and although Allegri was coy on the clubs interest, he advised the Italy international to step up his game before it is too late.

"I dont like talking about players in other teams," the coach said. "In any case, its a shame he still hasnt shown his talent and I think he needs to hurry up, because youre 30 before you know it."

Tottenham goalkeeper Cudicini joins LA Galaxy on free transfer

Carlo Cudicini, Tottenham Hotspur (Getty Images)
Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini will join LA Galaxy on a free transfer in January, both clubs have confirmed.

The 39-year-old Italian arrived at White Hart Lane in January 2009, but made just 37 appearances in all competitions over three years for Spurs.

In recent times he found his first-team opportunities limited by the presence of both Hugo Lloris and Brad Friedel, and will now make the same move as former team-mate Robbie Keane did in the summer of 2011.

We are delighted to be able to add Carlo Cudicini to our roster, Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said.

Carlo is an experienced and accomplished goalkeeper who we believe will be a great addition to our team and our defensive unit.

Manchester City may need to strengthen in January, insists Mancini

roberto mancini , manchester city

Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini has claimed that a shortage of players at his disposal could force him to delve into the transfer market during January.

The Africa Cup of Nations leaves the Italian with a number of absentees for the majority of the month, with Yaya Toure, his brother Kolo and youngster Abdul Razak are all on duty for the Ivory Coast.

Mancini also has a number of injury concerns to deal with, with Micah Richards not expected to recover from a knee problem until the end of Februaury, whilst summer signing Jack Rodwell is also a casualty.

When asked if he would need to strengthen his squad in January, Mancini told reporters: "Probably. We can't sell players. We don't have enough players to play if we sell players.

"We can have a problem because we lose three players and we have Micah Richards, I don't think he play until the end of February.

"Jack Rodwell - we don't know when he can p lay. Maybe we can recover Aleksandar Kolarov in two weeks. We will see this in next days."

Mancini is expected to name an unchanged side for the visit of Stoke on New Years Day, with the Blues preparing an appeal for Samir Nasris red card received at Norwich on Saturday.

That means Edin Dzeko, who found out he was starting against Norwich only hours before kick-off, is likely to lead the frontline again alongside Sergio Aguero against Tony Pulis side.

"If he scores two goals every game we don't have a problem," Mancini added, when asked about Dzeko. "I am happy for Edin because I think he deserves to score.

"He scored two goals but he did also a good performance. I hope he can continue to score and play well."

Sheikh Mansour favourite Balotelli is likely to stay at Manchester City, says Mancini

Mario Balotelli - Manchester City
Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini believes that Mario Balotelli will stay at the club and has revealed that the striker is still highly regarded by owner Sheikh Mansour.

Balotelli has been a controversial figure on and off the field ever since he signed for the club for 24 million back in 2010 from Inter.

The Italy international scored 13 goals in 23 appearances in the Premier League last season before shining at Euro 2012, but he has scored only once in the top flight in 2012-13 and continues to be dogged by disciplinary problems.

"I think Mario will stay but the future depends mostly on him," Mancini toldLa Gazzetta dello Sport. "Sheikh Mansour likes Balotelli because he recognises the talent and he exports the name of the City over the world.

"We need to consider that Mario was made as a major investment, and this is not a club that throws its capital through the window."

Mancini says he remains fond of Balotelli having overseen his development at two clubs but has acknowledged that the 22-year-old must raise his standards of professionalism.

"The relationship between me and him is always good, even if one day he does something," he continued.

"I love him because for many years we live together. I've seen him grow. But the professional relationship is another thing and I've told Mario what I need from him.

"The time of cheap talk is over. Balotelli is 22 years old and now it's time to be professional. I ask from him seriousness and commitment in training, a more stable private life and correct behaviour on the pitch.

"[Roma forward Francesco] Totti is Mario's best example. If Francesco is able to have this continuity of performance at the highest level at the age of 36 years, it's because he has behaved as a professional.

"Mario now has returned to training and could be on the bench against Stoke. Otherwise, h e could play against Watford in the FA Cup on January 5."

Xabi Alonso in the dark over contract situation at Real Madrid

Xabi Alonso
Spain international Xabi Alonso has admitted that he is in the dark over his contract situation at Real Madrid.

The former Liverpool midfielder, who remains a key cog in Jose Mourinhos team, is tied to the Blancos until 2014.

With 18 months left on his deal, questions have been raised over whether he will sign an extension with the club, or leave in the foreseeable future.

"I've no idea what will happen", Alonso confessed to reporters.

Prior to the winter break in Spain, Iker Casillas was dropped for Madrids 3-2 defeat to Malaga, and when asked to comment on the issue, Alonso remained tight-lipped.

"Now is not the time to talk about that, I'll discuss it another time."

The reigning Spanish champions are currently 16 points behind Barcelona in La Liga, sitting third, with Atletico Madrid in second place.

Minggu, 30 Desember 2012

Pato chooses Corinthians move, claims agent

Alexandre Pato - Milan

Alexandre Pato has agreed to move to Corinthians according to his agent, following speculation linking the attacker away from AC Milan.

Rossoneri vice-president Adriano Galliani was in Brazil during the Serie A winter trying to forge the Brazilian a transfer, and it looks like he was successful if the forwards representative is to be believed.

"Pato has chosen Corinthians," Gilmar Veloz told Sky Sport 24. Since he decided to return to Brazil, Corinthians was the first choice.

"I understood Pato needed to leave to experience another club and he chose Corinthians. And Galliani understood his reasons.

"Corinthians have welcomed him well, and they are doing everything possible to help [Pato] settle in.

"There are still some details to be resolved between the two clubs. But it is not for me to speak what exactly they are."

Robinho is another Brazilian at San Siro looking for a transfer in the January transfe r window, but there have been no further developments for the former Manchester City and Real Madrid attacker.

Nene: PSG will let me go back to Brazil

Ligue 1 : Nene (Paris SG vs Rennes)

Paris Saint-Germain attacker Nene has revealed that he plans to return to Brazil in the January transfer window.

The 32-year-old had been linked with a move to Turkish team Besiktas by some media reports, but it seems the Parc des Princes player has his heart set on a move back to his homeland.

Nene has claimed that his move has been agreed by PSG chief Leonardo, and says that although offers have been tabled from outside of South America, his intention is to go back to the country of his birth.

"My intention is to play in Brazil - that is clear for me - I have already spoken to Leonardo and they will agree to let me go," Nene told Brazilian sports daily Lance.

"My idea is to return to Brazil but I also have offers from European clubs, clubs in Sao Paulo and another country. [But] my priority is to head home."

The attacker starred in the last Ligue 1 season but has fallen out of favour under Carlo Ancelotti in recent mo nths, with the summer signings having forced him down the PSG pecking order.

Wenger rules out Henry loan return to Arsenal

Thierry Henry - New York Red Bulls
Arsene Wenger has ruled out the possibility of bringing Thierry Henry back for a third spell at Arsenal.

Henry, now with New York Red Bulls, returned to the Gunners on loan in January during the MLS off-season, scoring two goals in seven appearances.

The 35-year-old's decision to train with his former club had led to talk of another possible loan stint in the New Year, but Wenger believes his squad already possesses sufficient attacking options.

"Those who scored today are [Theo] Walcott and [Olivier] Giroud, that proves we already have two good strikers at the club," the Gunners' boss told Canal+ following his side's 7-3 victory over Newcastle on Saturday.

"We will not take the risk of bringing him back for a third time.

"I think that it [the loan move for Henry] will not be done. Because he's just got back from vacation. He will need three to four weeks to get in shape. He had a long season too."
< br />Henry established himself as an Arsenal legend during eight hugely successful years in north London between 1999 and 2007, and remains the club's all-time top scorer with 228 goals.

Zaha: I want to establish myself as a Premier League player with a January transfer

Wilfried Zaha - Crystal Palace (Getty Images)
Crystal Palace talisman Wilfried Zaha has admitted he wants to establish himself as a Premier League footballer by making a move to the top flight in the January transfer window.

The 20-year-old England international has attracted interest from a number of leading clubs, including Sir Alex Fergusons Manchester United, and has revealed if a Premier League club made an offer for him in the transfer window, then he would make the move.

I want to establish myself in the Premier League and in international football, he told the Mail on Sunday.

Im not a teenager any more, Ive played more than 100 first-team games and this year is crucial to develop my football career.

Ive played a lot in the Championship so having that new challenge in the Premier League, where everyone wants to be, would be great.

To be honest, if I had the chance in January and Palace agreed, its something Id want to go for, he added, revealing that his involvement with top-flight players while on England duty has stimulated his ambition.

"The little bits we did in training with England were more intense than Id been used to," he said.

"Playing with Premier League players tested me, it was a great challenge but I felt comfortable in that company. Steven Gerrards shooting made the biggest impression on me. I dont know how he got that amount of sheer power, it was impressive!"

He also talked about his relationship with Liverpool youngster Raheem Sterling, with whom he has become close friends.

I have a good relationship with Raheem, he said. Hes 18 and I can joke around with him. We have that understanding.

There was an article where people thought I was comparing myself to Ronaldo and Messi. He was bantering with me about it, saying, 'You think you are better than those guys!' We laughed about it, because he just knew that wasnt my personality at all really.

Zaha, who was born in the Ivory Coast, has made 119 first team appearances and scored 15 goals for Crystal Palace since signing for the south London outfit in 2010.

Sabtu, 29 Desember 2012

Bojan return to Barcelona possible, says father

Bojan Krkic - Milan

Bojan Krkic could return to Barcelona in 2013, his father has revealed, despite not having shone during his time in Serie A.

The attacker was sold to Roma for an estimated 12 million in 2011 but was loaned out to AC Milan for this season, but Barca retain a buy-back option on their former player.

Bojans father told CONE: "He's in a privileged situation because he belongs to two of the biggest clubs in the world. You can't rule out him going back to Barcelona."

The 22-year-olds parent also hinted that Tito Vilanova being in charge made Camp Nou a more enticing prospect, hinting at troubles with former head coach Pep Guardiola.

"The Guardiola matter is in the past and the truth is that with Tito we've always had a good relationship and mutual appreciation," he added. "We don't talk about Guardiola anymore."

His current club, Milan, will face Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League in February, and the Spaniards f ather admitted that his son would have liked to have played a less daunting side.

"He would have preferred other opponents, or at least facing Barcelona later, because any team that comes up against them is inferior," he concluded.

Wenger: Walcott belongs at Arsenal

EPL, Arsenal v Newcastle United, Theo Walcott, Tim Krul
Arsene Wenger insists Theo Walcott belongs at Arsenal after the England forwards hat-trick helped his side to a magnificent 7-3 victory over Newcastle.

The 23-year-old has little over six months left on his current contract and with little sign of a resolution imminent, could become the latest high-profile star to flee Emirates Stadium.

But his manager is adamant the former Southampton starlet maintains a deep affection for the club he joined as a 16 year old back in 2006 and is seeking a swift and amicable resolution.

Wenger told reporters: "He belongs here. I want it resolved with the same intensity. I think he loves the club and the club loves him."

The England international's treble against the Magpies was kick-started by a superb goal that saw him cut in from the left flank and curl an unstoppable shot past Tim Krul, reminiscent of several strikes scored by Gunners legend Thierry Henry - which the Frenchman also picked up on.

Wenger beamed: "That was a Thierry Henry-type goal.

"He has done very well, it typifies what I think he can do. He can play through the middle, he will only get stronger.

"He is a good finisher, he has learned a lot because he is an intelligent player. He will continue to improve."

More to follow...

Moyes: Everton would welcome Villa if he could come on loan

David Moyes, Everton
Everton manager David Moyes has stated that he would welcome Barcelona's David Villa, if the striker was interested in joining the club on loan.

The Toffees' boss also made clear that he expects stars such as Leighton Baines and Marouane Fellaini to stay at Goodison Park this season as he ruled out the possibility of selling any of his key players in the January transfer window.

Both Baines and Fellaini have been in superb form for the Toffees this campaign, which has seen them linked with moves away from Merseyside but Moyes claimed he was expecting a quiet transfer window.

""If he [Villa] was loanable and he wanted to join Everton, we'd be more than happy to have him," Moyes told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Last year, we sold [Diniyar] Bilyaletdinov for 5.5m back to Russia and that gave us the opportunity to go and buy.

"We brought in Steven Pienaar on loan from Spurs, we bought [Nikica] Jelavic from Range rs for 5m and Darron Gibson from Man Utd for 500,000. We spent the money we got in. That is the way we have tended to work.

"My intention is not to sell anyone this January."

The Toffees are currently pushing hard for a place in the top four, and next season's Champions League, and are only six points behind champions Manchester City in second.

The Sweeper: Manchester City & United monitor Ronaldo's situation at Real Madrid



By Wayne Veysey & Greg Stobart

MANCHESTER DUO MONITOR RONALDO


As uncertainty over Cristiano Ronaldo's future at Real Madrid continues to grow, both Manchester United and Manchester City are closely monitoring the forward's situation in Spain.

Roberto Mancini's side have already made two separate enquiries asking for Madrid's valuation of the Portugal international, while the Premier League champions are also willing to offer the 27-year-old 400,000-a-week in wages.

Ronaldo has remained quiet amid Manchester City's interest but has already revealed that he misses the relationship he had with Sir Alex Ferguson during his time at Old Trafford and has hinted that he would welcome a return to his former club.

Sports manufacturer giants Nike are also in line to renegotiate their kit deal with United, which could hel p finance the club's move for Ronaldo, although City are also changing their sponsorship to Nike as of next season.

Ronaldo's potential destination could also be influenced by the situation of Jose Mourinho, who may see his spell at Real Madrid finish at the end of the season, and the Portuguese boss has already been earmarked by Ferguson as one of two candidates, the other being Pep Guardiola, to be the next manager at Old Trafford.

STURRIDGE WINDFALL COULD PAVE WAY FOR VILLA LOAN MOVE

Manchester City are considering a loan bid for Barcelona forward David Villa next month once they receive a windfall payment from Chelsea for Daniel Sturridge's move to Liverpool.

The Premier League champions are due to receive 15 per cent of the fee Chelsea get from selling Sturridge, which will be in the region of 2.5 million.

City have already been paid 5m from Chelsea through a tribunal case when Sturridge left for St amford Bridge in July 2009, while the west London club also parted with another 1m when the 23-year-old gained his first England cap in November 2011.

Roberto Mancini will be restricted with the funds he'll have available next month but the Italian is a big admirer of Villa and has already attempted to sign the 31-year-old on two separate occasions but was put off by the Spain international's valuation.

City are also poised to offload Mario Balotelli in January, with AC Milan frontrunners for the striker's signature, and Mancini is keen on adding Villa in a temporary deal to bolster his attacking options ahead of the title run-in.

WELBECK WORRIED BY LEWANDOWSKI RUMOURS

Danny Welbeck is looking to seek clarification on his future at Old Trafford amid Manchester United's interest in Dortmund striker Robert Lewandowski.

The 22-year-old signed a new four-year deal with Sir Alex Ferguson's side in August afte r being handed a regular run in the first team which allowed him to establish a partnership with Wayne Rooney.

But with Robin van Persie's arrival in the summer, Welbeck has been restricted to just six Premier League starts this season and is now considered fourth choice at Old Trafford behind the Netherlands international, Rooney and Javier Hernandez.

With Lewandowski's possible arrival at United, Ferguson is already aware that the club will be unable to acquire the Poland international without selling one of his forwards.

RICHARDS CLOSING IN ON RETURN

Manchester City defender Micah Richards has stepped up his return from a knee injury and will resume full training with the first team next week.

The 24-year-old tore the meniscus in his right knee during City's Premier League victory over Swansea City on October 24 and required surgery to fix the problem. Following his operation, Richards has been carryi ng out his rehabilitation programme in the gym at City's Carrington training ground.

The Premier League champions have marked the middle of January as a possible return for Richards, which will come as a boost for Roberto Mancini as the Italian will be without Kolo Toure, who started at right-back against Sunderland on Boxing Day, for the majority of next month due to Ivory Coast international's African Cup of Nations commitment.

Jumat, 28 Desember 2012

Guardiola will return next year, says Laporta

Pep Guardiola, Barcelona

Former Barcelona president Joan Laporta believes that Pep Guardiola will return to coaching in 2013.

The former Spain international is currently on a hiatus, having stepped down as Camp Nou boss at the end of last season, handing the reins to Tito Vilanova.

Laporta, who remains a close friend of Guardiolas, thinks that Paris Saint-Germain would not fit the coachs methods but speculates he will take a job which allows him to be creative.

"I think Pep will return as coach next year. He has a great personality, very clear ideas and he is very intelligent, he told Swedish outlet Expressen.

I have the honour of having good relations with him and, for me, he is the best coach in the world.

All the big clubs would have Guardiola as coach. What would it take to convince him? He likes to create.

There will be many reasons influencing his choice, he would analyse them all. I think he wants to have the power to decide on a ll sporting matters and must be comfortable working there.

Paris? It is not obvious how they would convince Guardiola to coach there. I do not know if Paris Saint-Germain have the adequate structure for him."

Mourinho shrugs off Casillas snub as a success for coaches

Maradona Mourinho

Jose Mourinho believes that despite Real Madrids 3-2 defeat by Malaga before the winter break, his decision to omit Iker Casillas was a success as it showed that coaches continue to pick teams.

The Portuguese selection of Antonio Adan between the sticks instead of the club captain caused many fans to raise eyebrows, and the Blancos subsequently lost at La Rosaleda.

However, Mourinho - who was talking at a conference in Dubai alongside Argentina legend Diego Maradona - played down the defeat and hailed the influence of coaches continuing in modern day football.

"Maybe it looked like a bad week, but the outcome was fantastic, he told reporters in UAE.

Football changes greatly, but there is one thing that doesn't: the teams continue to be picked by the coaches."

The Blancos return to Champions League action in February against 2010-11 finalists Manchester United in the last 16 of the elite European competition.

Mourinho said of the tie: It'll be a thrilling clash and we're keen to beat a team who have a different philosophy to Real Madrid."

The former Chelsea boss also talked about former United player Cristiano Ronaldo, who will likely play a key role in the matches, and Mourinho praised his star players effort to succeed.

"He's a star, everyone wants a player like him, because of his character and his determination, he said.

Everyone knows he's the best and they are right behind him. His natural habitat is at the world's biggest teams."

Mourinho also rubbished reports of him taking Carlo Ancelottis head coach role at Paris Saint-Germain any time soon, and wished the Italian all the best at Parc des Princes.

"My future at PSG? I do not think so, the ex-Inter boss added. I think that Ancelotti is good and will be very successful in Paris.

Hulk defends decision to join Zenit St Petersburg

Hulk, Zenit
Hulk has defended his decision to leavePorto in the summer to join Zenit St Petersburg.

The Brazil striker joined the club for 50 million, but struggled to settle in his new surroundings, with his inconsistent form on the pitch marred by dressing-room disagreements.

However, the 26-year-old recently stated that he had resolved his differences with the club, and has now made it clear that he has no regrets over making the move from Portugal.

"I decided to go to Zenit because I had won almost every competition at Porto and I like new challenges in my career. I hope I can carry on winning like that in the near future," Hulk told O Estado de Sao Paolo.

"I am getting used to my new home. Now I need to focus on football. The biggest challenge in Russia was the cold weather at first but after playing games at -12, I think I am settling down quickly.

"We will fight for the title in the Russian league and try to w in the Europa League."

Zenit captain Igor Denisov publicly criticised the decision to spend huge sums on the Brazil attacker and midfielder Axel Witsel, but Hulk insists that such issues are now firmly in the past.

"He [Denisov] never said anything to me. They talked among themselves and the board did not like it because it became public. But that is in the past," Hulk continued.

"Today we have a good relationship. All this was overcome. We have no more problems."

Cavani: 55 million bid changes nothing

Edinson Cavani - Napoli
Edinson Cavani has insisted that nothing has changed for him after learning that Napoli rejected a 55 million bid for the striker.

The Uruguay international is one of the most prized attackers in Italy due to his consistent goalscoring at the highest level, and he has netted 13 times in Serie A, just one strike shy of the top scorer in the Italian league as of the winter break, Stephan El Shaarawy.

The huge offer from an unknown club has not perturbed the Partenopei striker, however, who insists that hard work has earned him that valuation.

"Nothing changes for me. [That value] is the result of many years of work and the fact that I have always given my best," Cavani told Uruguayan outlet Diario Salto, after playing in a friendly match in the country while on a trip home.

"For me, the objectives remain the same in 2013, to try to have the best chance for success in every competition."

Napoli current ly sit fifth in the Italian top flight, behind Juventus, Fiorentina, Lazio and Inter.

The Partenopei will face Viktoria Plzen in the last 32 of the Europa League having successfully negotiated the group stage.

Kamis, 27 Desember 2012

Livaja happy to leave Inter on loan deal

Marko Livaja - Inter

Marko Livaja has said that he would not rule out a loan move away from Inter if the opportunity arises.

The Italian giants have been on the search for a new forward and with the January transfer window fast approaching it could leave the Croatian surplus to requirements at the club.

Id like to stay at Inter, but I wouldnt be against a loan switch, said the youngster speaking at a charity football tournament in Split.

The 19-year-old joined the side in 2011 as a youth player but has only managed to make five senior team appearances.

Livaja spent the whole of last season away from the Nerazzurri on loan at Italian club Cesena, following a previous stint at Lugano in 2011, and he says he is hoping for another chance to leave his parent club on a temporary basis.

The most important thing for me is to play and score goals, where I do that is not of any significance, he added.

Although Livaja has failed to make an impact in Serie A, he has had an influence in Europe, scoring four goals in seven Europa League appearances for his clubs.

Mainz defender Kirchhoff agrees terms with Schalke

Germany, Bundesliga, 1. FSV Mainz 05, Jan Kirchhoff
Schalke have agreed terms with Mainz defender Jan Kirchhoff, Goal.com can exclusively reveal.

The Gelsenkirchen club's general manager, Horst Heldt, had admitted that there was interest in the Germany Under-21 international, whose current contract runs out in the summer.

And Schalke have moved swiftlyahead of the January transfer window to ensure the centre-back is willing to sign a deal which will keep him at the Bundesliga side until 2016.

A serious knee injury to key defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has caused the club - who currently sit seventh in the German top division - to react by splashing out at the start of 2013.

Christoph Moritz is believed to be wanted by Mainz, raising the possibility of the Bundesliga clubs sorting out a transfer exchange deal during the winter transfer window.

A switch to Schalke would offer Kirchhoff the opportunity of Champions League football this season too, as the squad finished top of Group B ahead of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier.

They will face Galatasaray in the last 16 of the elite European competition.

Manchester City bosses cool January spending plans as pressure grows on Mancini

EPL; Roberto Mancini; Manchester City v Manchester United
EXCLUSIVE
By Greg Stobart

Manchester City have indicated to under-pressure manager Roberto Mancini that he will not be provided with unlimited funds to spend in the January transfer window

It has been a tough campaign for the Italian so far, with his side crashing out of the Champions League at the group stages and sitting seven points behind Manchester United in their attempts to defend the Premier League crown won last season.

Despite this, though, club bosses are planning to run a relatively tight ship in the transfer market over the next month and have told Mancini he will largely have to manage with the playing resources he already has at his disposal.

City have been linked to multiple players from around Europe but the plans inside the club are for a transfer window without any significant expenditure.

Recent results a run of just three wins from nine matches in all competitions - have put the manager under increasing pressure within the club, which they are unwilling to solve by providing him with a blank chequebook.

Communication with Mancini has all come through director of football Txiki Begiristain, although chief executive Ferran Soriano will also have had a heavy say in the plans.

One player City could still move for in the January market is Malaga playmaker Isco, who Goal.com exclusively revealed is at the top of Mancini's wishlist this January.

The 20-year-old playmaker has a release clause of around 17.5 million, which the club see as a good bargain for a player they see as capable of making it to the very top of European football.

Therefore, despite not planning on spending heavily, they will closely monitor Isco's situation and be prepared to intervene and sanction a move if they feel there is a risk on missing out on his signature to another club or if Malaga appear clo se to extending his contract and subsequently increasing the buyout clause.

Other than that, Mancini has been advised to focus on improving the clubs fortunes by working with the players already at the Etihad Stadium -having already been backed with significant funds previously - as he fights to get the campaign back on track.

Follow Greg Stobart on

Neymar: I have no preference for Barca

Neymar - Santos FC
Santos forward Neymar has admitted that playing for Barcelona would be "a dream", but maintained that Catalunya is only one of several possible destinations for him.

The gifted attacker is wanted by a string of the top clubs in Europe, and although he considers the Blaugrana to be a great side, he insists that he has no special preference for the Camp Nou outfit.

"I'm sure the time will come to play in Europe," he was quoted as saying by AS. "It's a childhood dream, but I think it still has not arrived.

"Barcelona have players I have always admired and I think I could play there. They have great footballers and that's one of my dreams, but no, I never had a preference for Barcelona."

Neymar made clear that his only desire is to be happy wherever he is playing football, and has no intention of quitting his boyhood club just yet.

"I am a santista because my family has grown up here, and I do not see myself in another team. I don't have the goal of being the best in the world.

"I just want to be happy wherever I am. I want to be calm, to be cheerful when I play, and at Santos I'm happy."

Rabu, 26 Desember 2012

Heldt: Schalke interested in Kirchhoff

Jan Kirchhoff, Mainz 05

Schalke are interested in Mainz defender Jan Kirchhoff, general manager Horst Heldt has confirmed.

The Gelsenkirchen side are short defensively and, with key centre-back Kyriakos Papadopoulos out of action through injury, the Champions League-chasing side may well opt to bolster their ranks in the January transfer window.

Heldt admitted that no contact has yet been made with their Bundesliga rivals, but admitted Kirchhoff is on their radar, with his current deal set to expire this coming summer.

"This [Kirchhoff] is an interesting player, whose contract expires at the end of the season," the club's chief said to Reviersport.

"We have contacted his agent because he has some of our players under contract.

Currently we have had no contact with Mainz, but the fact is that through the even longer injury-induced loss of Kyriakos Papadopoulo, we need cover in the centre of defence."

Schalke currently sit seventh in Ger many's top flight - 17 points behind leaders Bayern Munich - a deficit that resulted in the sacking of coach Huub Stevens 10 days ago.

Villa's future 'in Barcelona's hands', admits agent

David Villa - Barcelona

David Villas future is in the hands of Barcelona, according to his agent Victor Onate.

The Spain international has been linked with a move to the Premier League, with Chelsea and Arsenal mooted as potential destinations for the ex-Valencia man, who has reportedly become tired of a bit-part role at Camp Nou.

But the managing director of VOS Marketing - which represents the forward - insist that Villa will respect the contract he has signed unless Barca allow him to leave.

"There is always speculation about David because he is a great forward, but his future is in the hands of Barcelona," Onate told Sky Sports.

"They have a contract and it is important to always respect such documents."

The 31-year-olds current deal runs until 2014 and it would still come as a surprise if coach Tito Vilanova sanctioned the departure of the striker in the January transfer window.

Manchester United forward Bebe nearing Rio Ave loan move

Tiago Manuel Dias Correia - Bebe of Manchester United porfile pic
Rio Ave club president Antonio Silva Campos has revealed the Portuguese side are on the verge of signing Manchester United forward Bebe on loan.

The 22-year-old has yet to make an appearance for Sir Alex Ferguson's side this season after spending last term on loan at Turkish club Besiktas where he suffered a cruciate ligament injury.

Bebe has struggled to cement a place at United following his 7.4 million switch in August 2010 and is now on the verge of heading back to his homeland in order to get more playing time.

"He [Bebe] is one of the players who should be just hours away from joining, but there are still some details left to address. His signing could be announced very shortly," Campos told Bola Branca.

Del Piero pledges future to Sydney FC

Alessandro Del Piero - Sydney FC - Emile Heskey - Newcastle Jets
Alessandro Del Piero has rubbished talk that he could leave Sydney FC in January by committing his future to the club.

The 38-year-old penned a one-year contract worth 1.5 million with the Australian side in the summer after he opted to end his 19-year association with Juventus and has since scored five goals in 10 matches - one of which was crowned Goal.com's Goal of the Week.

However, his arrival has not impacted positively on Sydney's fortunes, with the team sinking to the bottom of the A-League after just three wins all season, leading to speculation that the forward may decide against extending his deal, but he claims this is not the case.

"Everything is clear for me and the club," Del Piero told reporters in Sydney on Wednesday. "I'm not finding [our recent slump] stressful. I want to put all of my knowledge and heart into matches.

"My brother [Stefano] talks about [the matter of m y contract]. It's his problem, not mine. I've had a really good time here.

"At the moment the best thing for me, the club, my team-mates and everyone here is to concentrate on the games ahead.

"We have to put all of our energy, mentally and physically, into games. I'm really enjoying it here. Now we have to win a couple of games for more enjoyment.

"We have to overcome this slump with heart, fight, pressure and a little luck."

Nene will join Besiktas if terms are met, reveals president

Ligue 1 : Nene (Paris SG vs Rennes)
Besiktas president Fikret Orman has claimed that Nene will join the club providing that conditions are met by the Paris Saint-Germain forward.

The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of the season and recently announced that he will not renew his stay with the Ligue 1 leaders, meaning he is free to talk to other teams with a view to signing a pre-contractual agreement.

Speculation in the Turkish media suggested that the Brazilian had already negotiated personal terms, and on Wednesday, the Black Eagles' supremo told NTVspor:
"If our conditions are met, the transfer will happen."

Nene, who despite finishing as the French top flight's joint-top scorer with 21 goals last term, has been frozen out of Carlo Ancelotti's plans at PSG in 2012-13, featuring just nine times in the league.

The forward has reportedly been offered an annual net salary of 2.25 million
by Besiktas, who are seeking a replacement for the newly-departed Ricardo Quaresma.

I live for Roma, says De Rossi as he dismisses transfer talk

Daniele De Rossi - Roma
Daniele De Rossi has reiterated his desire to stay at Roma, as the January transfer window looms.

The Italy international has been far from a regular in coach Zdenek Zeman's plans so far this season, with Goal.com revealing that AC Milan had become the latest club interested in the player's signature.

The 29-year-old put in a storming performance in the Giallorossi's 4-2 victory over Massimiliano Allegri's side last weekend, and he has since affirmed his commitment to his boyhood club, insisting he has never contemplated a move away from Stadio Olimpico.

He told the New York Times: I was born in Rome. For me, it is the normal thing to play right here. I never tried, or really wanted, to play outside for another team.

For me, it is amazing, great. I first came to the training centre when I was 12-years-old. Its my home.

President James Pallotta said I am not on the market, not for sa le. I repeat, I still love this city and the club. Everything I love is here. It would be so difficult for me if I have to change.

If some clubs want me, my manager will have to talk with them.

I live for this club. My story is that I live for the club and, for me, leaving would be a drama, a big drama. I would like to stay here.

Wenger: I will only sign exceptional players for Arsenal in January

Arsene Wenger
Arsene Wenger has stated that he will only enter the January transfer market if he can find an "exceptional" player for Arsenal, suggesting the French boss will be cautious with his budget once again.

The Gunners have endured their worst start to a season since the 63-year-old took charge, yet still sit in fourth position in the league - albeit level on points with Everton, Tottenham and West Brom.

And while the manager is under pressure to add to his squad and secure Champions League qualification, he hailed the team's "will to win" and believes he has a good squad at his disposal already.

"We are in the market, but only if we find players who will really strengthen us because we have a good squad. But if we find an exceptional player then we will take him," he told reporters.

The Gunners are 13 points behind league leaders Manchester United and have been defeated by Chelsea, Norwich, United and Swansea so far, while also l osing a shock Capital One Cup quarter-final to League Two side Bradford.

Despite the disappointing domestic form, the north London team will play Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League - and Wenger believes his side have the mentality to succeed this season.

He added: "We lacked fluidity in our attacks [against Wigan] and continuity in our attacking play, but we won because of our will to win, and with the way things are now I won't turn my nose up at that."

Former fan favourite Thierry Henry looks unlikely to rejoin the squad on loan after New York Bulls head of global soccer Gerard Houllier he has not heard about any potential deal for the French forward.

And long-term striking target Klaas-Jan Huntelaar has dashed the hopes of fans hoping to see him at the Emirates Stadium by committing his future to Bundesliga side Schalke.

Selasa, 25 Desember 2012

'No question!' Lukaku prefers season-long West Brom stay to Chelsea return

EPL, West Bromwich Albion v Reading, Romelu Lukaku
Romelu Lukaku is adamant that he would rather stay on loan at West Brom all season than return to Chelsea in January.

The 19-year-old striker scored his sixth goal of the season to seal a 2-1 win over Norwich City on Saturday and took to Twitter to declare his intentions.

The Belgian wrote: "I'd like to stay here for the rest of the season and there's no question about that !!!"

Lukaku moved to Chelsea from Anderlecht in the summer of 2011 for 22 million (27m) but was unable to make an impact in his first season, joining Steve Clarke's side on loan as a result.

His temporary manager moved after the forward's winner to hail his "big talent", having drawn level with Blues counterpart Fernando Torres on six Premier League goals in 2012-13.

'Inter do not have faith in Alvarez' - Colasanto

Ricky Alvarez - Inter

Ricky Alvarezs days at Inter look numbered after his agent revealed that the Nerazzurri do not have faith in him.

Alvarez, 24, who moved to Italy from Velez Sarsfield in August 2011, was booed by the Inter supporters as he left the field 30 minutes into Saturday's 1-1 draw with Genoa at San Siro suffering yet another injury.

I certainly did not expect these difficulties, because he arrived in Italy at the right time, his agent Filippo Colasanto told Il Sussidiario.

He wasnt too young or too old and he certainly has quality. Perhaps the club does not have faith in him, but it must also be said Inter are a demanding side.

The midfielder, who has four caps for Argentina, signed for Inter for 10 million after impressing in Sarsfields run to the semi-finals of the 2011 Copa Libertadores.

Inter beat off competition from Arsenal for the players signature and Alvarez has been linked with a move to River Plate and Marse ille in recent weeks.

Drogba is better than Balotelli, says Ambrosini

Massimo Ambrosini - Milan
AC Milan captain Massimo Ambrosini has claimed that Shanghai Shenhua's Didier Drogba is a better player than Manchester City forward Mario Balotelli.

The Rossoneri have been linked with a move for both attackers in the January transfer window, and the veteran midfielder feels the Ivorian is the more complete player, thanks in part to his compatriot's temperament.

"I've always liked Drogba," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He is very professional and he is welcome at Milan. Mario's talent is not enough - it's wrong to justify his behaviour with his age."

Two attackers linked with a move away from San Siro are Robinho and Alexandre Pato, and although Ambrosini would like to see the Brazilian duo stay put, he accepts that they could leave.

"Robinho is important for us and he always has a good attitude," he continued.

"He must only stay is he wants to, and he has to be motivate d to play for Milan. Pato must understand what's best for him."

Ambrosini also claimed that Juventus would retain their Serie A crown easily this season and that the best Massimiliano Allegri's side could hope for was second place.

"Juventus have no rivals in Serie A. We can fight for second place as we are at the same level as Napoli, Inter, Roma, Fiorentina and Lazio. We will understand our target only in February and March."

Milan have been drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 of the Champions League, and Ambrosini concluded by saying that his side are among Europe's best eight teams.

"Milan would deserve a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions Leauge. Apart from Barcelona, Manchester United, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, no one is better than us."

Goal.com's bumper festive quiz: Part two starring Cristiano Ronaldo

Christmas (Getty Images)
Temperatures may be plummeting but the Premier League season is certainly hotting up as the hectic Christmas programme of matches now hits full swing.

Away from the drama on the pitch and your traditional Christmas dinner at home, though, we have some more content to get your teeth into!

All in the name of some festive fun, Goal.com have produced a bumper festive quiz! We are running a mini-quiz every day from Monday to Friday, with pictures, trivia and football-based brainteasers.

Read on for part one and have a go at the questions, leaving your answers in the comments box below. Enjoy!

GUESS THE YEAR



What year was the above picture of Cristiano Ronaldo taken?

GUESS TH E LINK



What is the link between the three men in this picture?

GUESS THE KIT



Which team is this?

TRIVIA

Who is the only current Premier League player to have scored for six different top-flight teams?

Nicky Barmby, Les Ferdinand, Craig Bellamy, Marcus Bent, Andy Cole and Robbie Keane are the former Premier League players who have achieved the feat.

Check back on Wednesday for round three of our fun festive quiz!

Taarabt: My agent is in talks with AC Milan

Adel Taarabt - Queens Park Rangers
QPR star Adel Taarabt has claimed that his agent is in talks with AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani regarding a potential move to San Siro.

The Morocco international has impressed at Loftus Road this season and has consequently been linked with a move away from the struggling west London club.

Taarabt says that only a move to AC Milan would tempt him to turn down the advances of top English clubs as he sees the Serie A side as a potential stepping stone to a move to Real Madrid or Barcelona.

"I would only refuse offers from the big English clubs if Milan made me an offer," Taarabt told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"My agent is in talks with Galliani, but it depends on what happens with Robinho and [reported AC Milan target Javier] Pastore.

"Milan aren't going through a glorious period now, and they're no longer a part of the top clubs. However, if I joined Milan then it would open up the doors for me to great clubs like Real Madrid and Barca."

Taarabt believes that the success of Kevin-Prince Boateng in Milan is proof that he could succeed with the Italian giants.

The 23-year-old played with the Ghana midfielder at Tottenham but both struggled to make an impact on the first team at White Hart Lane before being sold.

"My friend Boateng is also at Milan," he added. "When we were at Tottenham he was often in the stands, so I think that I have a chance too."

Senin, 24 Desember 2012

Liverpool manager Rodgers refutes claims of Sturridge contract clause

Capital One Cup - Chelsea v Manchester United, Daniel Sturridge
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is adamant no January signings have attempted to dictate what position they will play in contract negotiations.

The Anfield club have been heavily linked with Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge, who is expected to complete a move to Merseyside when the transfer window re-opens.

It has been reported Sturridge, 23, wanted a clause written into his contract specifying that he will be used as a centre forward by Rodgers.

But, while the Liverpool manager would not confirm that the England international had completed a medical ahead of the transfer, the former Chelsea coach insisted that there had been no request for a clause.

"No-one will come into this football club and demand where they play, that's for sure," he told reporters.

"It has been - as any sort of negotiations with any clubs with any players [are] - it isn't straight forward."

Rodgers also denied tha t Stewart Downing would be leaving the club in January after a string of improved performances.

He added: "I see these reports about him going out and leaving. We don't want him to go anywhere.

"All we've ever asked is that every player is at the top of their game and be the best as what they possibly can be every day and in the games.

"And if he continues along the lines that he is, as I say, he'll be here for a few more years yet."

Downing hopes improved performances will keep him at Liverpool

EPL - Liverpool v Fulham, Stewart Downing
Liverpool winger Stewart Downing hopes his improved performance in recent weeks will prevent manager Brendan Rodgers from following through on suggestions that he could be sold in January.

The midfielder joined the Reds for 20 million in the summer of 2011 but has struggled at Anfield before stepping things up with his first Premier League goal for the club against Fulham.

"I wanted to stay, I didn't want to leave, but it was out of my hands," Downing explained to Sky Sports regarding being told that he would be allowed to leave in the winter transfer window.

"I was out of the team and frustrated and I said, if something big came up, I'd look at it. We had that conversation and, to be honest, I thought I was on my way in January.

"I was a little bit surprised when [Rodgers] said I could go. He came in and was pleased with me at the start and then, all of a sudden, things changed quickly and I could go.

"I don't know who makes that decision but one minute I was being told I was doing well and the next I was told I could go."

The winger noted that facing the prospect of being sold may have helped him to turn the corner.

"It was a bit confusing but it is a kick up the backside," he observed. "I then had nothing to lose as I was going. If it was a gee-up for me then maybe it's worked because the performances are coming now.

"The good thing is we have had open dialogue. I speak to [Rodgers] if I have a problem and, if he has something to say to me, he can speak to me, so from that point of view it has been good.

"He has been straight with me and said if something comes up in January them we'd look at it but if he's saying I'm staying then it's a funny old game.

"The only thing I can do is play well and make him keep me and pick me and that is all I am trying to do."

Rodgers looking for early deals in January

Thai  Brendan Rodgers Liverpool
Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted he is looking to bring players into the club as early as possible in January.

The Reds are in advanced talks with Chelsea to sign striker Daniel Sturridge, who underwent a medical on Merseyside at the weekend ahead of a proposed 12 million switch.

The Ulsterman was wary of discussing deals in great detail, but claimed he was only looking to bring a small number of bodies in.

He told reporters: "Nothing will be complete until we've signed a player and once we do, I'll have no problem in speaking about who we've signed. But until anything is done on paper, there is nothing to say.

"We'll always do our business privately and in the way we want to do it. As you've seen over the last number of weeks, there are always going to be things written about players, clubs and dealings.

"We're confident we can get some business done early in January, which will really help the squa d. Until that happens, there is nothing really to add.

"We don't want to make many [signings] in January, but the one or two we do I think can make a difference and help us. If we can do that, I think we'll have a good second half to the season."

The Reds recovered from a defeat against Aston Villa to smash Fulham 4-0 on Saturday, despite Joe Allen and Raheem Sterling being rested.

The former Swansea boss felt vindicated by the decision and is now looking for the midfield pair to kick on when they return to full fitness.

He explained: "I felt it was the right time [to rest Allen]. He's also suffering a little bit in and around his pelvis.

"Add into that he has played twice the amount of games at this stage of the season than he had last year. He's been playing in a lot of the games - sometimes up to three games in a week. Physically, that has been a big demand on him.

"It's my job, along with the staff, our gr eat medical team and sports science team here to assess the moments when we can give them a rest.

"The likes of young Raheem as well, he needed the breather and I think you seen in his little cameo at the weekend, the weight lifted off his shoulders by first and foremost signing his contract. I think that has probably been a great relief for him to get that over and done with.

"He had a breather as well and was really bright - and plus he got his haircut and looks like a proper young man now!"

Juventus coach Conte unaware of any move for Drogba

Antonio Conte - Juventus
Juventus coach Antonio Conte has revealed he is unaware of any move to sign Didier Drogba.

The Old Lady are reported to be in the hunt for a new centre forward, but the 43-year-old says he hasnt discussed the possibility of the Ivory Coast international joining from Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua.

I dont know why Drogbas name is being mentioned [with a move to Juventus], Conte told Tuttosport. I havent spoken to anyone about him and neither have I been asked.

The Bianconeri trainer went on to admit that while he is keen to see a major new signing in Turin, he would like the club to consider a more long-term option.

We could do with a world class player who has won the Champions League, but we know what we need and how the club should proceed, he continued.

We dont have 50m to spend, but if we plan ahead then we could buy some champions for 35m-40m.

The coach, who last season led the club to its fir st Scudetto since the Calciopoli scandal, also revealed his ambitions both to manage abroad and to one day step into international football.

Juventus is a dream job for me, he said. Afterwards, Ill work abroad then the next step would be the [Italian national side].

Wilshere urges Walcott to sign new contract at Arsenal

EPL; Theo Walcott; Jack Wilshere; Arsenal Vs Queens Park Rangers
Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere has urged club-mate Theo Walcott to extend his contract with the club.

The England international's current deal expires in the summer and despite being the side's top scorer so far this season, he has refused to reaffirm his commitment to the club amidst disputes over salary and his desire to play as a striker rather than his nominal right-wing position under Arsene Wenger.

With the January transfer window approaching, there are fears that Walcott - who has been given an opportunity to play in his preferred position in Arsenal's last two matches - could be sold to the highest bidder in order to avoid him leaving the club for nothing at the end of the season.

However, Wilshere, who was one of five young British players along with Kieran Gibbs, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Carl Jenkinson, to extend their contracts at the Gunners until 2018 last week, believes that it is vital tha t his England international team-mate remains at the club.

"Everyone at the club wants Theo to re-sign," Wilshere told reporters.

"But that is something he has to sort out, it is up to him and the club if they can reach an agreement and I hope they do.

"Theo's been great for us. We just signed five British boys so hopefully he can be the sixth and cap it off. I'm always winding him up, saying, 'C'mon Theo, sign'. It's up to him and the club.

"Theo knows what he means to us and what he means to the fans."

The 20-year-old added that he hoped the decision of he and the four other Brits to commit their long-term futures to Arsenal would help persuade Walcott to tie his own to the club.

"I think he [Walcott] looked at that," continued Wilshere.

"We're all great friends, the British boys, we all go out together, we have meals together and sit together when we're on the road. So hopefully he can follow us and sign."

Minggu, 23 Desember 2012

Verratti rules out Roma switch

Marco Verratti - Paris Saint-Germain

Marco Verratti has claimed that there is no chance of him leaving the club for Roma.

Rumours have recently linked the midfielder with a return to his native Italy, with some reports suggesting an exchange deal involving Giallorossi midfielder Daniele De Rossi was in the pipeline.

However, the former Pescara player strenuously denied the reports and insists that he is relishing the experience of playing in France.

I have absolutely no intention of leaving Paris, the 20-year-old told Sky Sport Italia.

At the start I wanted to stay in Pescara, but when an offer like this came in, it just couldnt be turned down by me or by the club. Its a dream to have an experience like this at the age of 19.

There is no chance of that [the De Rossi swap deal] happening. Daniele is a great player as well as a friend and I doubt Roma will let him go. I repeat, I am happier every day in Paris. It wasnt easy at the beginning, but th e last few wins have shown were becoming a real team.

Fellow summer signings Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Ezequiel Lavezzi are among those Verratti plays alongside, and the midfielder took the time to praise their respective talents.

Considering how talented Ibra is, he could just walk around and win games, but instead he works harder than anyone and only shouts at us for our own good, he said.

He is a leader and commands the team. It really helps you grow playing alongside him.

We often talk about Serie A at PSG, as many of the team have been there. Ibra always tells me he was so happy at Milan.

Both he and Thiago Silva say it is the perfect club. What is my perfect club? Pescara.

Although he ruled out an imminent return to his native country, he admitted that an eventual homecoming to Serie A is guaranteed.

Will I return to Italy? Yes, it can certainly happen, Verratti added. Right now I am happy in France and take it one day at a time. Id certainly love to come back to Italy one day.

Zubizarreta: In January Barcelona will keep Villa

villa

Barcelona director of football Andoni Zubizarreta has denied that striker David Villa will leave the club during the January transfer window.

Villa, 31, has struggled to regain his place in the Barcelona team after returning from a broken leg that saw him miss six months of last season, and has been linked with a move away from the Catalan giants in recent weeks, with Arsenal supposedly monitoring the Spanish internationals situation.

However, Zubizarreta ruled out a move for Villa and was keen to stress he is still a key member of the Blaugrana squad.

"In January we will keep Villa, the director of football told Canal Plus.

And it is important to remember that Barcelona is a club that habitually does not accept offers for star players in January.

"David is a player that brings goals and intensity to the team.

"Now he has recovered from a serious injury I believe that he is offering a good level on the field.

Villa moved to Barcelona in 2010 for 40 million after five successful years with Valencia.

Galliani: Pato and Robinho have asked to leave Milan

Adriano Galliani - Milan

AC Milan vice president Adriano Galliani has confirmed Alexandre Pato and Robinho have asked to leave and he is flying to Brazil for negotiations.

Galliani broke the news after seeing Milan beaten 4-2 by Roma on Saturday night, bringing to an end a run of four consecutive victories.

But the Milan chief conceded the revelation had not struck him by surprise saying he had intentions to travel to South America to strike a deal with one of their potential suitors already organised.

"My trip to Brazil has been planned for months, he told the official Milan website.

"It will be all work and no vacation, as there are two negotiations in progress.

"Pato and Robinho asked to leave Milan. I already know what could happen in case they do go."

The club are believed to have received offers from Rio de Janeiro rivals Flamengo and Fluminense for Robinho, while Pato is attracting strong interest from Club World Cup winners Corinthians.< /p>

Milan had started to recover from a poor start to the season but the defeat to Roma is a setback for Massimiliano Allegris side.

Galliani continued: "Its a shame, as we made many mistakes, but also created plenty of chances.

"There were a few too many errors in defence and we really have to work on set plays. Weve conceded 14 from dead ball situations and that is a statistic we must reflect on."

The Rossoneri go into the winter break in seventh place, a huge 17 points off leaders Juventus.

He added: "We are looking at second position more than third. With a win here we couldve closed the gap. I still mourn the points we dropped at home to Atalanta and Sampdoria.

"Oh well, lets look on the bright side. We have a team that plays good football, has good players and can bring talent off the bench too. Its a shame were paying for that bad start to the season."

Berlusconi rules out Drogba & Balotelli bids

Silvio Berlusconi - Milan

AC Milan president Silvio Berlusconi has ruled out the possibility of Mario Balotelli or Didier Drogba arriving at San Siro this January.

The Italian giants have received offers from Brazil for both Alexandre Pato and Robinho, and are on the lookout for replacements should the duo head back to their South American homeland.

"I can assure you that Balotelli will not arrive," the former Italian Prime Minister told Sky Sport Italia.

"Drogba is certainly a player we really like, but I think at [his potential] cost only the Chinese and Russian clubs can afford him."

And Berlusconi, who turned 76 in September, remained tight-lipped on his clubs transfer targets, adding coyly:"Who will arrive? I cannot say"

Balotelli has been promised another chance at Manchester City this week by manager Roberto Mancini, after the striker backed down from an argument with the English champions over a fine for poor behaviour.

Meanwhile , Drogba - who moved to Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua from Chelsea this summer - is reportedly unhappy with life in Asia and looking for a move back to Europe.

Sabtu, 22 Desember 2012

Sturridge set to undergo Liverpool medical

Daniel Sturridge of Chelsea profile pic
By David Lynch

Chelsea forward Daniel Sturridge is due on Merseyside on Sunday for a medical ahead of his proposed move to Liverpool, Goal.com understands.

The Englishman will undergo a physical examination at the club's Melwood training ground but is believed to have already agreed terms on a deal with the Reds.

Liverpool have also reached an agreement with Sturridge's club, and are expected to pay 14.7 million for the 23-year-old forward.

The Anfield club are eager to secure the attackers services as soon as the January transfer window opens, having played the first half of the season with just one senior striker in Luis Suarez.

However, with Fabio Borini expected to return to training next week following his recovery from a foot fracture and Tom Ince likely to join Sturridge in making a move to Merseyside, Brendan Rodgers' attacking options will be given a significant boost ahead of the s econd part of the campaign.

Former Manchester City striker Sturridge has been restricted to just one start this term, with misfiring forward Fernando Torres preferred by both Roberto Di Matteo and his replacement Rafael Benitez.

The Birmingham-born forward made 28 starts last season, scoring 11 goals despite often being deployed out wide.

Official: Hecking appointed Wolfsburg coach

1. FC N├╝rnberg: Dieter Hecking
Dieter Hecking is the new coach ofWolfsburg, die Wolfeconfirmed on their official website on Saturday.

The 48-year-old arrives at the Volkswagen Arena after three years at Nurnberg, where he managed to transform the team from relegation strugglers to a respectable mid-table outfit, who currently sit just one point abovehis new team in the Bundesliga table.

"The new head coach of Wolfsburg is Dieter Hecking. Wolfsburg and the 48-year-old have today agreed a deal until 2016," Wolfsburg announced on their official website.

"The date for the official presentation of the new Wolfsburg coach will be announced in the coming days."

Hecking's coaching debut for Wolfsburg will see his team face Stuttgart in the Bundesliga on January 19.