Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Capello to cast eye over Beckham


England coach Fabio Capello will assess David Beckham's form on Wednesday ahead of the friendly against European champions Spain on 11 February.

Capello will be present to watch the 33-year-old midfielder play for AC Milan against Genoa.

"Barring any changes in his schedule, he will be at the San Siro," said Capello's son and manager, Pierfilippo.

If Beckham plays against Spain he will equal Bobby Moore's record of 108 England caps as an outfield player.

The former Manchester United player has already proved a hit with the Serie A giants.

He has started all three competitive games he has been available for and has helped Milan to two victories and a draw.

Beckham also played 45 minutes against Hamburg in a friendly draw in Dubai.

Last Sunday, Beckham scored his first goal for the club in the 4-1 win over Bologna.

Milan now want to extend Beckham's stay beyond the loan period.

"If Beckham comes to an agreement with Galaxy, we are ready to pay a figure. In the coming days we will meet his advisors," Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani told Italian broadcasters Sky Sport 24.

"If Los Angeles Galaxy decide not to sell him, they won't sell him."

Beckham's spokesman, Simon Oliveira, was unavailable for comment.

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti, club lawyer Leandro Cantamessa and president Silvio Berlusconi had already expressed their desire to extend Beckham's stay at the San Siro.

But Galaxy coach Bruce Arena suggested that AC Milan should speak to the American club first before making their thoughts public.

"We've got two players out on loan agreements and those loans end 8 March," he said.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Villarreal's Nihat undergoes knee repairs


Villarreal CF attacker Nihat Kahveci will be out of action for up to four weeks after undergoing surgery on a right knee complaint, with medical staff saying the club had taken advantage of another injury to get him seen to.

Injury prone
The Turkish international, 29, has endured a difficult season on the injury front with two thigh problems restricting him to just seven Liga appearances so far this term. After picking up a knee sprain in training prior to Villarreal's 3-3 draw against Valencia CF on 10 January, club doctor Juan Albors took the decision to operate. "We took advantage of the time he was going to be out with the sprain," Albors explained. "We repaired the meniscus which was the cause of the problem and was resulting in the player suffering pain. The intervention was successful and he must now rest."

Broken finger
Meanwhile, defender Ángel López will be forced to play with a protective covering on his right hand for up to six weeks after breaking a finger during Sunday’s 2-0 home victory against RCD Mallorca. Villarreal play Panathinaikos FC in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round on 25 February and 10 March.

Podolski to follow his heart back to Köln


FC Bayern München striker Lukas Podolski will return to his first club, 1. FC Köln, at the end of the season, with the German international saying: "I'm happy that a decision has now been made about my sporting future."

Final settlement
The 23-year-old was at Köln from 1996 until joining Bayern in 2006, and has signed a four-year deal with his old team which will bind him until 2013, provided the Rhine-based club avoid relegation from the Bundesliga. The 60-times capped international said: "I'm happy that a decision has now been made about my sporting future and that there won't be any further speculation about me. I'm totally convinced by Köln's plans and I'm looking forward to the new challenge, but until the summer my whole focus will be on Bayern."

Friendly agreement
No transfer fee details have been released, but reports suggest that around €10m will change hands, with much of the fee being financed by a friendly game between the two clubs. Köln president Wolfgang Overath said: "I'm happy Lukas is coming back to us. He has followed his heart. I'm happy we have managed to bring a German international to a newly-promoted team. I think we found a good solution for all three parties – Lukas Podolski, Bayern and Köln."

Bayern frustration
Podolski has not carved a niche at Bayern since moving to Munich in 2006, scoring 12 goals in 58 top-flight games. He made only nine 90-minute appearances in that time and, having failed to make his presence felt in the first team, could not replicate the form that helped him score 46 goals in 81 league games for Köln. He will nonetheless be eager to end his spell in Munich on a high, with Bayern level on points with TSG 1899 Hoffenheim at the top of the Bundesliga table and a UEFA Champions League first knockout round tie against Sporting Clube de Portugal kicking off in Lisbon on 25 February.

Portsmouth sign Mullins and Pele


Portsmouth manager Tony Adams has bolstered his midfield options with the double signing of Hayden Mullins from West Ham and Pele from Porto.

Mullins, 29, has agreed a three-and-half-year deal at Fratton Park and moves to Pompey for an undisclosed fee.

Portuguese attacking midfielder Pele, 21, joins on loan for the rest of the season with a view to a permanent move.

"Hayden and Pele have been on our radar for some time," said Portsmouth executive chairman Peter Storrie.

"They will add strength to our midfield. Central midfield is an area we have needed to strengthen - that's why we brought in two players."

Both players have been signed in time to play Aston Villa on Tuesday and they will add some much needed cover in Portsmouth's midfield.

Papa Bouba Diop, Richard Hughes and Niko Kranjcar are all out injured, while Lassana Diarra departed for Real Madrid earlier this month.

The signings continue a busy transfer window for Adams, who has already brought in Jermaine Pennant on loan from Liverpool, while Jermain Defoe left to rejoin Tottenham.

Mullins has spent the last five years at West Ham after joining from Crystal Palace and he has made 21 appearances for the Hammers this season.

"It was in a little bit of a shock," he told Portsmouth's website. "I trained on Sunday with West Ham and then it all happened very quickly, but I'm very pleased to have joined.

"It was a great experience to have worked under Gianfranco Zola but it's a great challenge here to come and work with some really talented players.

"I enjoyed my time at West Ham but I was there for five years and thought that maybe it was time for a change.

West Ham complete Nsereko signing


West Ham are set to announce the signing of 19-year-old Brescia striker Savio Nsereko.

The Uganda-born German will be a direct replacement for Craig Bellamy, who moved to Manchester City last week.

The fee for Nsereko has not been revealed but it is expected to be a club record, topping the £7.5m West Ham paid Liverpool for Bellamy in 2007.

Hammers technical director Gianluca Nani worked with the Germany Under-19 international when he was at Brescia.

The forward can play in a variety of attacking positions and was named player of the tournament at last year's Uefa Under-19 Championship in the Czech Republic, which was won by Germany.

He was also reported to have attracted interest from Italian giants Roma and Juventus.

Cudicini makes Tottenham switch


Tottenham have completed the signing of goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini on a free transfer from Chelsea.

The 35-year-old joined the Blues on loan in 1999 from Italian side Castel Di Sangro and signed a permanent deal a year later, costing the club £130,000.

Cudicini will provide competition for Heurelho Gomes who has been the subject of much criticism this season.

"Chelsea can confirm Carlo Cudicini has signed for Tottenham Hotspur on a free transfer," read a Chelsea statement.

"The club would like to take this opportunity to thank Carlo for his years of service and wish him well."

Tottenham paid PSV Eindhoven £7m for Brazilian Gomes in the summer and he struggled with his form initially before a string of improved displays.

Spurs manager Harry Redknapp, who also signed defender Pascal Chimbonda from Sunderland on Monday, has been looking for a goalkeeper after releasing reserve team keeper Cesar Sanchez earlier this month.

"I met Heurelho Gomes and Ben (Alnwick) so it will be fantastic to work with them and we'll try to push each other," Cudicini said.

"I think it will be a fair competition and that is good for the team.

"At this moment the team is not in the best position but it doesn't matter - I'm here to bring some experience and try to push this club forward."

Voted Chelsea Player of the Year in 2002, Cudicini has found his chances limited since Petr Cech's arrival in 2004.

"I'm really happy to be here to take on this new challenge and I'm really looking forward to being part of this great team and great club," said Cudicini.

"I'm really happy with this choice. This was the time to find a new challenge and push for other success - and for the club as well.

"I was at Chelsea for 10 years - nearly a third of my life. It was a fantastic experience but now we move forward."

In total, he made 208 starts for Chelsea and he featured four times this season, most recently in the 1-1 FA Cup draw with Southend on 3 January.

Meanwhile, Tottenham have agreed the transfer of Hossam Ghaly to Saudi Arabian side Nassr Saudi Club.

The 27-year-old Egyptian midfielder joined Spurs in January 2006 from Dutch side Feyenoord and made 34 appearances, scoring three times.

Beckham off the mark for AC Milan


David Beckham scored his first goal for AC Milan in the Italian club's 4-1 Serie A victory against 10-man Bologna.

On loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy for three months, the England midfielder scored Milan's fourth goal, finishing off a slick move with a powerful shot.

Brazil's Kaka, who rejected a world record move to Manchester City last week, scored twice - a penalty and a shot from the edge of the box.

Milan's other goal was scored by veteran Dutchman Clarence Seedorf.

Milan got off to the worst possible start when Serie A top scorer Marco Di Vaio scored a ninth-minute penalty but Carlo Ancelotti's side soon drew level when Seedorf slid the ball home after Kaka's effort was parried.

Kaka then took control of the game, netting with a penalty and a superb left-foot shot, before Beckham wrapped up Milan's win.

"To score my first goal is great and I will keep this shirt, but the important thing is we won here," said Beckham, who is due to return to LA Galaxy on 9 March.

"I can't say what will happen," added Beckham, responding to growing speculation he might stay in Italy. "Even if my contract says that I'll be here until March. We'll have to see."

Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti added: "Our hands are tied because he has a clear contract.

"We can't do anything to change things, he can definitely do something. He must sort out his contract with the American team. I'm a realist - we'll take advantage of him for now."

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Man City complete De Jong switch


Manchester City have finalised the signing of Netherlands international Nigel de Jong on a four-and-a-half-year contract from German club Hamburg.

The 24-year-old has moved for an undisclosed fee after agreeing personal terms and passing a medical.

However, German media reports that Mark Hughes's side may have paid as much as £18m to sign him.

The midfielder had a clause in his contract that would have allowed him to leave Hamburg in the summer for £1.8m.

De Jong said: "I feel very good and for me it is the next step in my own career after three years in Germany and I hope to be successful at Manchester City.

"The ideas and the planning behind this club are very hopeful and it is a new adventure so I am delighted to be here right now."

The Dutchman has played 66 Bundesliga games for Hamburg after joining from Ajax for £1.2m in 2006.

And De Jong, who is out of contract with Hamburg in 2010, had previously hinted that he would like the opportunity to join the Eastlands outfit, saying: "Everybody knows that I would like to play for a big club eventually.

"I count Manchester City in that category.

The move sees De Jong join Wayne Bridge and Craig Bellamy at Eastlands as City's January recruitment list grows.

Left-back Wayne Bridge was the club's first January signing, arriving from Chelsea for about £10m, while Bellamy joined from West Ham for a fee believed to be worth £14m.

City's executive chairman Garry Cook said there could be more signings before the window closes.

"We've got a couple of others that we're still working on and it's unfair to comment too deeply on those," Cook told the club's website.

"We had very clear plans going into [the transfer window]. We're ticking the boxes as we say."

Cook also insisted that, despite missing out on signing AC Milan star Kaka, the club had a long-term plan in place.

"Over the next four [transfer] windows we have got a clear list of players we would like to see at this football club," said Cook.

"We choose not to get into the public space, which allows itself to be speculative, but we clearly know what we're doing - and I think that the fans are going to be excited."

City lie 11th in the Premier League table but only four points above the teams in the relegation zone.

Real want duo cleared for Europe


Real Madrid have appealed to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (Cas) to allow Lassana Diarra and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar play in the Champions League.

The Spanish side meet Liverpool in the last 16 and Uefa rules say clubs can add three players to their squad for the knockout stages of the competition.

But both Diarra (Portsmouth) and Huntelaar (Ajax) have played in the Uefa Cup already this season.

And only one player can play in another European event in the same season.

Uefa turned down Real's appeal for the two players to be added to the list last week.

A statement from Cas said: "Real Madrid requests that the Uefa decision be annulled and that Uefa be ordered to register Huntelaar and Diarra."

Real face Liverpool in the first leg on 25 February and the second leg on 10 March.

AC Milan 'bottled Kaka transfer'


Manchester City's executive chairman Garry Cook has accused AC Milan of "bottling" the deal to bring Kaka to the Premier League club.

The £100m deal to take the Brazilian star to Eastlands collapsed on Monday and Cook says the Italian club are to blame for the failed transfer.

"If you want my personal opinion they bottled it," Cook told the BBC.

"He clearly was for sale but we never got to meet with the player, the behaviour of AC Milan got in the way."

Manchester City felt they were close to landing the 26-year-old attacking midfielder after sending a delegation to Milan to negotiate what would have been a world-record transfer.

The Premier League club was reportedly also set to pay Kaka wages of £500,000 a week to quit Milan for Manchester.

But Kaka announced his decision to stay at AC Milan on the club's television channel on Monday

He said: "At the moment I don't want to change anything.

"All the messages that I received said to choose with the heart and I think in the end that has been the decision. It is absolutely not about money."

But Cook says "political" issues led to Milan changing their stance on Kaka's proposed transfer.

"We met with the football club and they made it quite clear that Kaka was for sale and we made it quite clear that we wanted to bring him to Manchester City Football Club," Cook told 5 live Breakfast.

"As we got through to the next stage there were questions that were asked that they then couldn't answer.

"The political pressure they came under and the public space that they were trying to live this negotiation through maybe changed the conditions. And again, like I say, I think they bottled it.

We never met the player so it was very difficult for him to turn down Manchester City when we didn't even get to make him an offer."

Cook did meet with Kaka's father, who also acts as his advisor, and the City chief says the player was keen on a move to Eastlands.

Cook revealed he spent nearly seven hours talking with Kaka's father about the 'journey' Manchester City are embarking on.

In total, City representatives flew to Milan four times and Monday's meeting also involved three Manchester City lawyers, a senior club executive and a board member who travelled to Italy from Abu Dhabi.

"His dad said he was very interested in the project," said Cook.

"We talked a lot about a humanitarian approach and also environmental issues and the statements his son would like to make around the world.

"He is truly respected around the world not only for his capabilities as a footballer.

"Unfortunately when we talked to Milan yesterday those issues were taking a back seat and the financial demands were coming to the fore.

"It's a shame he won't be able to join us on our journey."

Monday, January 19, 2009

'Pep' talk keeps a lid on Camp Nou fervour


Josep Guardiola once again tried to play down the excitement surrounding his FC Barcelona side's latest win, a 5-0 home triumph over RC Deportivo La Coruña, by saying: "All of this will only be remarkable if at the end we're crowned champions."

Record total
Barcelona's win at Camp Nou on Saturday evening gave the club 50 points, a new record total at the halfway mark of a Liga season. Yet, despite his team continuing to set the standard this term, Guardiola insisted on not getting carried away. "There are 19 games to go and 57 points still left to play for," he said. "We haven't won anything yet. We must continue working, we don't have time to stop and evaluate the situation."

'Spirit and talent'
Thierry Henry and Samuel Eto'o scored twice each while Lionel Messi also netted in the win against Depor, where Guardiola believed "the spirit and talent of my players were decisive". He added: "We now need to maintain this dynamic. We've amassed a lot of points and scored many goals. Despite that, there are things we didn't do well in this match. But the overall feeling is a good one and making mistakes allows you to correct things and to improve."

Eto'o composed
The league's leading scorer with 18 goals, Eto'o echoed the cautious sentiments of his coach, saying: "We have to keep our feet on the ground. All I'm thinking about is winning the next game. Nothing is easy in this life so I'm happy with the win and that we are continuing to score goals while conceding very few."

Sir Alex singles out United defensive heroes


Manchester United FC may have reached pride of place in the Premier League at the weekend but they could not have done so without the "miraculous" contribution of their record-breaking defence.

Ten in a row
That was the opinion of United manager Sir Alex Ferguson after the team equalled the Premier League record of ten successive clean sheets – set by Chelsea FC in the 2004/05 campaign – in the 1-0 victory at Bolton Wanderers FC. The fact that Saturday's success moved United top of the table for the first time this season was almost forgotten by Sir Alex as he paid tribute to his defenders.

"The back four has performed miracles in recent weeks and it's a great achievement," he said of a rearguard which was last breached by Samir Nasri's 48th-minute goal in a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal FC on 8 November. Since then the English titleholders have registered eight wins – six of them by 1-0 – and two draws amid a run of Premier League shutouts made all the more remarkable by the injury absences of Rio Ferdinand and Wes Brown.

"Nemanja Vidić's performances have been absolutely magnificent and we were delighted to get Jonny Evans fit for this game because he's maturing with every match he plays," Sir Alex explained. "The two of them have been fantastic in the last few matches and we've had a very good spell defensively."

Happy knack
If an ability to keep clean sheets is the hallmark of potential champions, so too is the Red Devils' knack of nicking late goals – with the latest example being Dimitar Berbatov's 90th-minute header at Bolton. "Late goals are always special and we were delighted to get another one," added Sir Alex. "It was a perfect time to score because there was no chance for Bolton to come back." United climbed a point above long-time leaders Liverpool FC, with both teams having played 21 games. Liverpool are next in action at home to Everton FC today.

Guti and Dudek out of Madrid reckoning


Real Madrid CF will be without midfielder Guti for up to a month after he tore a muscle in his left calf during a training session on Friday, while Polish reserve goalkeeper Jerzy Dudek is also set for a spell on the sidelines.

Unhappy return
The 32-year-old Guti, who has made 12 Liga appearances this season, had just recovered from a slight left thigh strain when he picked up this latest injury as the Spanish champions prepared for Sunday's home game against CA Osasuna. Dudek also pulled out of Friday's session complaining of pain in his right calf and with subsequent tests on the injury revealing a small tear, the former Liverpool FC player is expected to be out of action for between two and three weeks. Madrid meet Liverpool in the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League on 25 February and 10 March, playing the first leg at home.

Chelsea lose Cole for the season


Chelsea FC and England midfielder Joe Cole will miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery for a serious knee ligament injury.

Reconstructive surgery
Cole ruptured an anterior cruciate ligament during Chelsea's FA Cup replay win at Southend United FC in midweek and on Saturday had successful reconstructive surgery. Chelsea have confirmed his absence for the remainder of the campaign.

Scolari 'disappointed'
Chelsea manager Luiz Felipe Scolari said: "I am very sad for Joe to have suffered this injury and I am disappointed to have lost a very important player for me and the club at such a vital moment in the competition. However, I believe that with his spirit, Joe will come back to Chelsea even better than before." Cole had made 20 appearances in all competitions this term, scoring three goals. The London club sit third in the Premier League and will play Juventus in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round on 25 February and 10 March.

Becks expects Kaka stayBecks expects Kaka stay


David Beckham is confident Kaka will turn down the opportunity to join Manchester City in the January transfer window.

The Brazilian playmaker is on the verge of a world record £108million move to England as City boss Mark Hughes closes on his top target.

Kaka started in Milan's 1-0 victory over Fiorentina at San Siro on Saturday night and fans demonstrated their support as the 26-year-old was thought to be saying his goodbyes.

But Beckham - who is currently on loan with Milan - expects Kaka to stay in Italy because of his 'love' for the Rossoneri.

"Every club in the world wants Ricardo, not just because he is a great player, but he's also the nicest man you'd ever hope to meet," said Beckham.

"We all want him to stay and I think he will stay, as he loves Milan and he loves living here."

When asked if he had discussed life in the Premier League - and specifically in Manchester - with Kaka, Beckham was tight-lipped.

"We said good morning and we said good luck before the game," added Beckham.

"There's no need to speak about anything else, as the other things are not important, we just had to focus on the game."


And Beckham insists he only follows the business of former club Manchester United, despite the emergence of City following the arrival of the Abu Dhabi United Group.

"I only care about Manchester United, personally," Beckham continued.

"Manchester City are a team that has been bought by a company and there is a lot of money there now.

"But, for me, United are the only team in Manchester."

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Ancelotti contemplates Kaka exit


AC Milan coach Carlo Ancelotti has admitted for the first time that Kaka could move to Manchester City.

Milan have given their Brazilian star permission to discuss City's world record transfer bid of £100m.

Ancelotti said: "My hope is to be able to coach Kaka for many more years, but we've got to be aware of the facts and the club's evaluation of the offer.

"The squad is still competitive, even if we were to lose such an important player."

He added: "Our goals? They remain the same for this team with or without Kaka."

Kaka's father and advisor Bosco Leite is due to arrive in Italy on Monday to discuss the potential deal.

"Milan has authorised the negotiation with City," said Kaka's spokesman Diogo Kotscho. "The next step is Kaka's father will talk to Manchester City."

On Thursday, City boss Mark Hughes said the club's big-money offer for the 26-year-old playmaker makes football and business sense.

"The money involved is something we feel, from a football and business point of view, works," said Hughes.

"The process has moved forward at a pace this week but people shouldn't be thinking that it is just a whim."

The sheer size of the figures involved in the proposed deal have made headlines around the world, but Hughes said it was all part of a considered plan from the club's hierarchy.

"It's been done with structure and understanding," he said.

"We're all very much involved in that process; myself from a football point of view and (chief executive) Garry Cook and (chairman) Khaldoon Al Mubarak from a club and business point of view.

"It would be naive to think I have not been involved in discussions over this transfer. I have had meetings about it and have had an input."

Kotscho insists any move would be done for the right reasons and not just for the reported £500,000-a-week wages.

Real president Calderon resigns


Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon has resigned after an emergency board meeting over a vote-rigging scandal.

Marca newspaper previously published allegations of irregularities at the club's general assembly last month.

"Against the recommendations of my board I've decided to step down," said Calderon. "I have committed errors but not irregularities."

In charge since 2006, Real have twice won the Spanish league during the 57-year-old lawyer's tenure as president.

Despite Real's two title wins under Calderon, he fired the two coaches responsible for that success, first sacking Fabio Capello and more recently Bernd Schuster.

Calderon will be replaced by Vicente Boluda, who takes charge until a new presidential election can be held in the close season.

And Calderon has also faced criticism over Real's courting of Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Milan hopeful over Beckham stay


AC Milan are optimistic David Beckham will be able to extend his two-month loan with them from LA Galaxy.

The 33-year-old played 88 minutes of Sunday's 2-2 draw with Roma and Milan have been hugely impressed with him.

Milan technical director Leonardo told BBC Sport: "It was a fantastic match for David and he gave us a lot. We are very happy with him.

"We have an agreement that he will stay for two months (but) everything is possible. We will see."

The 2009 MLS season gets under way on 19 March, with LA Galaxy kicking off against DC United on 22 March.

Leonardo, a World Cup-winner with Brazil in 1994, had only expected Beckham to be able to play for an hour against Roma with the former England captain lacking recent match practice.

It was Beckham's first competitive match for three months since the end of the MLS season.

"We thought perhaps he could play for 45 or 60 minutes, but he played the whole match in a very important way," said Leonardo.

Man City 'close' to Kaka signing


Manchester City assistant manager Mark Bowen says Brazilian superstar Kaka is "very close" to a world record-breaking transfer from Italian giants AC Milan.

A City delegation travelled to Italy and reportedly bid about 100m euros for the 26-year-old attacking midfielder.

Kaka has said he intends to stay at Serie A giants Milan but Bowen told BBC Sport Wales: "We believe the deal is very close.

"We are selling the future plans of the club to the player."

Kaka's adviser Diogo Kotscho said the 2007 Fifa World Player of the Year would be open to a move to City if Milan wanted to sell.

And Mark Hughes' right-hand-man Bowen revealed: "I've read a lot about his love of AC Milan - and that goes without saying - but even when people said the deal was dead, that was not our understanding.

"We are still hopeful of still signing Kaka.

"The situation has been a surprise to everyone but obviously negotiations have been going on for a fair while.

"How close we are I don't know but our understanding is that it is very much a strong possibility that Kaka will be coming to Manchester City."

Some media outlets reported that the deal was off because Man City had decided to withdraw their offer to Milan.

But Hughes told a news conference on Thursday that the club were continuing their pursuit of the player, insisting that "negotiations are still taking place".

Hughes also said he was very much part of discussions to bring Kaka to Eastlands.

"It would be naive to think I have not been involved in discussions over this transfer. I have had meetings about it and have had an input," said the Welshman.

"It is impossible to say whether it will go through or not but we will let everyone know when there is something to say."

An AC Milan spokesman told BBC Sport on Thursday that they would not be making any further comment on the "special situation".

Kaka's representative insists any move to Manchester City would be done for the right reasons and not just for the reported £500,000-a-week wages.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Arsenal 'interested in Arshavin'


Arsenal have shown an interest in signing highly rated forward Andrei Arshavin, Zenit St Petersburg's coach Dick Advocaat has confirmed.

Arshavin, 27, has been linked with a £20m move to the Gunners following his impressive performances at Euro 2008.

"I am aware that Arsenal are interested but I don't know any more than that," said Dutchman Advocaat.

"I'm expecting Arshavin to leave. He's a top player and could play for any of the top teams in England."

Advocaat added: "Arshavin played well for us last season but he didn't play as well as he can. There's still more to come from him and people will see that."

The Russian season ended in November with unfashionable Rubin Kazan claiming their maiden domestic title, with the 2007 champions Zenit languishing in fifth.

Beckham makes bow in AC Milan win


David Beckham played for 45 minutes on his AC Milan debut as the Serie A giants beat Hamburg 4-3 on penalties following a 1-1 friendly draw in Dubai.

The former England captain started the game in a Milan team that also featured Massimo Ambrosini and Andrea Pirlo.

Ronaldinho put the Rossoneri ahead with a 63rd-minute penalty, but Collin Benjamin equalised four minutes later.

Beckham joined Milan on loan from US side LA Galaxy in a bid to prove his fitness and regain his England place.

The 33-year-old is due to stay at the Italian side until March, when the US season resumes, and could make his Serie A debut when Milan play Roma on Sunday.

And he will join the late Bobby Moore as England's second-highest appearance maker behind Peter Shilton if he features against Spain on 11 February.

The ex-Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder has made no secret of his desire to continue playing for his country.

Making an impact in Italy would undoubtedly help his cause, but Beckham has insisted he did not move to the San Siro purely to stay in Capello's plans.

"I didn't join Milan just for that reason," said Beckham. "I have never played in Italy and I think it's one of the best leagues in the world.

"I want to concentrate on working with the team. I am willing to work really hard for my place in the squad.

"I always try to have no regrets in life, or in my career. I made the decision to go to LA two years ago and I've had a good time there."

Friday, January 2, 2009

Platini To Ramón Calderón: UEFA Cannot Change Rules


Real Madrid’s hopes of registering both their two new winter signings, Klaas-Jan Huntelaar and Lassana Diarrà for the next phase of the Champions League are fast disappearing after UEFA president, Michel Platini personally told Los Blancos supremo, Ramón Calderón that the rules cannot be changed.

A spokesperson for UEFA had confirmed with Madrid-based daily, Marca that Calderón had spoken on the phone directly with Platini to clarify the controversial ruling in Article 17.18 which prevents the registration of more than one player who had previously played in the UEFA Cup with one team to feature in the Champions League with another club.

Having dished out close to €40 million on Huntelaar and Lass, Calderón was hoping to have both available in the knockout stages of Europe’s premier competition. But Platini’s respond to Calderón was: “I’m sorry, but it cannot be done.”

As a last resort, Madrid are now expected to take the issue to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), a move that will not please UEFA.

Pessotto: Juventus Can Beat Chelsea


Juventus team manager Gianluca Pessotto knows that Chelsea are overall better than his side, but that does not stop him from being optimistic about qualifying for the next round of the Champions League.

For Pessotto, there is more than just quality that can determine the strength of a squad.

"I hope that Juventus restarts with the same determination with which it closed the year, with great will to win and surpass the difficulties," explained the Old Lady's manager to Sky.

"This thing, tied to the great quality of the squad, will make it easier to obtain positive results.

"We know that starting out well is also the best way to prepare ourselves for the very important appointment in February at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea.

"Chelsea can be beaten, absolutely. It's not because Juventus is much stronger than Chelsea, but because we must play each game."

Pessotto played for the Bianconeri between 1995 and 2006, making 243 appearances for the club and scoring eight goals.

Zokora linked with Madrid switch


Ivory Coast midfielder Didier Zokora says he is "flattered" to be linked with Real Madrid, but insists he is happy at Tottenham Hotspur.

Zokora has been pinpointed by new Real and former Spurs boss Juande Ramos as a player he would like at the Bernabeu.

"It's fantastic to be associated with Real Madrid as they are one of the biggest club sides in the world," the 27-year-old midfielder said.

"Show me the player who would not want to be linked with them."

But Zokora signed a four-year contract extension with the north London club in August and insists he is happy under manager Harry Redknapp.

"My team is doing much better under Harry Redknapp and I am enjoying every minute of it.

"For me, this is a win-win situation. I cannot lose."

Zokora joined Spurs from French side St Etienne in July 2006, having previously won the Belgian title with RC Genk.

Ramos has already made one swoop on the Premier League by agreeing to sign Lassana Diarra from Portsmouth for £20m ($30m).

He will join them when the transfer window opens on 1 January.

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