Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sahar leaves Chelsea for Espanyol


Ben Sahar
Chelsea's teenage striker Ben Sahar has moved to Spanish side Espanyol.

The 19-year-old, who became Israel's youngest international when he made his debut at the age of 17 in 2007, has signed a four-year contract.

Sahar joined Chelsea from Israeli side Hapoel Tel-Aviv in 2006 and last season had a six-month spell on loan at Dutch club De Graafschap.

He made five appearances for the Blues and also spent time on loan at QPR, Sheffield Wednesday and Portsmouth.

Sahar played nine games for QPR in the 2007-2008 campaign before moving to the Owls, where he scored three goals in 12 outings.Last summer he switched to Pompey but he did not play for the first team during a six-month stay at Fratton Park and moved on to Eredivisie side De Graafschap, where he scored on his debut.

Benitez defends Johnson move


Glen Johnson
Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez has defended his decision to pay over the odds for right-back Glen Johnson.

The Portsmouth defender yesterday agreed to move to Anfield and he is expected to formally sign a contract in the next couple of days.

Reports suggest the transfer is costing £17million, although much of that will be written off because of money still owed by Pompey after Peter Crouch's move to Fratton Park last summer.

Chelsea tried to take their former player back to Stamford Bridge but Benitez was always confident the England international would choose Anfield - even if it was at a premium.

"Sometimes you have to spend a little bit more," said the Liverpool boss.

"You can't compete in the top four of the Premier League unless you spend some money.

"We were looking for a player of quality and also somebody who is British because of the new Champions League rules.

"Glen Johnson fits both categories."

The fact Benitez has been able to make his first summer signing will help fend off claims the club are in financial trouble.

Kop Holdings, the club's parent company, posted a £42.6million loss in the year to August 2008 but concerns over the £350million loan taken out by American owners Tom Hicks and George Gillett to buy Liverpool appear to have lessened after reports today suggested a refinancing package had been agreed.

Benitez is confident he will make other signings, although he may spend more of his time trying to hang on to the likes of Xabi Alonso, Alvaro Arbeloa and Javier Mascherano who have all been linked with moves to Real Madrid and Barcelona.

"We have a plan. We can sign one more player if necessary, but that's without any players leaving," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"Alvaro Arbeloa has had a very good season but he has one year left on his contract.

"If he signs that will be good because we will have more competition, but if we get a good offer we will have to consider it."

Benitez is also hoping Sebastien Leto and Andriy Voronin - who both were loaned out last season - will bring in more funds along with left-back Andrea Dossena, who could return to Italy after just one season at Anfield.

Leto is on the verge of a move to Panathinaikos after he became impatient waiting for Olympiacos, where he was on loan last season, to make their move.

"I think that the possibilities to play at Panathinaikos next season right now are more than 90%," said the Argentinian winger.

"I have been waiting for something from Olympiacos all these weeks but they didn't make a move to buy me so far."

Espanyol seal deal for Nakamura


Shunsuke Nakamura
Shunsuke Nakamura has agreed to join Espanyol on a two-year contract, subject to a medical examination.

The midfielder, 31 on Wednesday, had been expected to return to Japan with former club Yokohama F. Marinos once his terms at Celtic expired.

However, Nakamura has chosen to extend his stay in Europe with the club who finished 10th in La Liga last season.

He helped Celtic win three league titles during a four-year stay after three seasons with Reggina in Italy.

Nakamura's Celtic contract will expire at the end of June and he is to be paraded as an Espanyol player on 10 July.

The PFA Scotland's player of the year in 2007 helped Celtic to a Scottish Cup success and two League Cup victories as well as three consecutive championship wins.

In May, Yokohama indicated that they were willing to make Nakamura their highest-paid player, with a contract worth £1m per year on offer.

The J-League club wanted to buy him in January but were foiled after club sponsors Nissan suffered financial problems.

Nakamura left Marinos in 2002 for Reggina before his £1.25m switch to Glasgow from Serie A.

"It is a pity that we couldn't sign him," said Marinos president Masaharu Saito.

"But we respect his decision and hope he will have a productive spell in the Spanish league."

Santa Cruz ‘delighted’ with move


Roque Santa Cruz
Roque Santa Cruz has signed a four-year deal at Manchester City after they agreed a fee in the region of £18million with Blackburn for the Paraguayan international.

The South American will link up again with former Blackburn manager Mark Hughes at Eastlands and expressed his happiness at finally making the switch to Manchester after being linked with a transfer during the January window.

Speaking to Sky Sports News, Santa Cruz said he was glad to finally seal the move to City, and excited for the future.

"Well it took a very long time to get me here and now everything is done. I am very happy and delighted with everything and looking forward to the season."

"I think everybody is expecting a lot and the fact the club are signing big players, great players, also shows we want to be as good as possible", Santa Cruz noted.

"I think everybody is talking about breaking the top four so once we get there, we need to keep looking forward and see what is the best we can get."

The 27-year-old further admitted that the fact that Mark Hughes was in charge at Eastlands was a big factor in his move.

"It's very good I know the way he [Hughes] trains and the people who were with him and the fact that he's a winner and he wants to perform better and better."

"So having him here has helped me a lot to decide and also of course that it is a great club with great fans, and I am looking forward to playing games here."

Santa Cruz is City's second signing of the summer after Gareth Barry, with reports speculating that the club are also in the hunt for strikers Carlos Tevez and Samuel Eto'o as well as Arsenal defender Kolo Toure.

Tevez agreed City deal weeks ago


Reports in England are claiming that Manchester City-bound Carlos Tevez decided to leave Old Trafford over two weeks ago.

The Mirror newspaper has reported that City will announce a £25.5 million move in the coming days, something that seems increasingly likely to be validated after United announced over the weekend that Tevez had rejected a five-year contract offer from the Red Devils.

A statement on United's website said that despite an offer that would make him one of the highest earners at Old Trafford," his advisers informed the club that, despite the success he has enjoyed during one of the club's most successful periods, he does not wish to continue playing for Manchester United."

Speculation is rife that Tevez was upset by United manager Sir Alex Ferguson's reluctance to give him a starting spot, and the Argentine has earlier claimed he did not feel like "part of the family" in Manchester.

Tevez apparently made his decision to leave since he felt he was not valued enough at the Theatre of Dreams, despite being a fan favourite, with cries of "Sign him up, sign him up" often erupting in the stands whenever he appeared toward the end of the season.

At Eastlands, Tevez is apparently set to sign a £100,000 a week contract, and will be the third signing for City after they snapped up Gareth Barry and Roque Santa Cruz.

Manager Mark Hughes, backed by the club's Arab owners, is looking to revamp a City side that looking attackingly listless last season, and Tevez will join fellow new signing Santa Cruz as well as Robinho and Craig Bellamy up front for them.

After losing both Cristiano Ronaldo and Tevez early in the summer, Ferguson will certainly be under pressure to bring in new players, but United have so far been quiet in the market, despite being linked with Antonio Valencia, Douglas Costa and Karim Benzema among others.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Chelsea to appeal Drogba bans


Chelsea have told UEFA they intend to lodge an appeal against the lengthy European bans handed out to striker Didier Drogba.

Drogba was given a six-match ban, the last two games suspended for two years, for his angry confrontation with referee Tom Henning Ovrebo at the end of their Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona in May.

UEFA's Control and Disciplinary Body also handed a four-match ban, the last game suspended for two years, to right-back Jose Bosingwa.

But the severity of UEFA's punishment stunned the Blues who have now informed Europe's governing body of their intent to appeal against the punishment.

Chelsea's message to UEFA also gives them more time to prepare their case. The Blues now have another six days in which to lodge their appeal.

Chelsea are also expected to appeal against their fine of 100,000 euros for the improper conduct of their players and for the throwing of missiles by their supporters.

Referee Ovrebo was at the centre of controversy after rejecting four penalty appeals during the second leg of the semi-final which ended 1-1 on the night.

But Andres Iniesta's late away goal gave Barca a place in the final where they beat Manchester United to win the trophy.

Drogba's foul-mouthed rant at the official was captured by watching millions on live TV. The Ivorian stunned the worldwide audience by shouting "It's a f****** disgrace" straight at the cameras. He later apologised for his behaviour.

Bosingwa was banned for labelling Ovrebo a "thief" in an interview - words he later retracted. But he too will miss a large chunk of Chelsea's Champions League group stage unless the club can get the suspensions reduced on appeal.

Barca prepare Mascherano bid


Liverpool's Javier Mascherano
Liverpool's Javier Mascherano is wanted by Spanish giants Barcelona who are readying a bid for the combative midfielder.

According to a report in the British tabloid The Daily Mail, Barca are looking to tempt Reds boss Rafael Benitez with a substantial bid for the Argentine international.

It is claimed the midfielder has decided to leave the Merseyside outfit because his wife has failed to settle in England, with a move to Spain the preferred option.

It is thought that Benitez understands the predicament the holding-midfielder finds himself in and would be prepared to let him go, provided his valuation is met.

Benitez values Mascherano at 41.5 million euro's - but Pep Guardiola may test the Premier League club's resolve by offering a cash plus player deal, possibly including his highly-rated young striker Bojan.

Wigan capture Gomez from Espanyol


Wigan manager Roberto Martinez has made his first signing for the club by bringing in playmaker Jordi Gomez from Espanyol on a three-year contract.

Martinez, who took over as Latics boss this summer after leaving Swansea, had Gomez on a year-long loan in Wales last season from the Spanish side.

Gomez, 24, scored 14 goals for Swansea and is thought to have cost £1.7m.

"Jordi is a real quality player. I have no doubts that he will do well in the Premier League," said Martinez.

"I think he can go all the way in the game, and to play in the Premier League is the next step in his career.

"He is a creative player with fantastic technical ability but he also knows how to look after himself on a football field. He was very popular with the supporters at Swansea and I'm sure that will be the same here."To be honest I was surprised we managed to get him at Swansea last season, but now that he is available, he is a player I really wanted to bring on board. He can play in several different positions and will score goals from midfield."

Left-footer Gomez began his career at Barcelona before switching to their city rivals Espanyol.

Martinez added: "We are a little light in numbers and I want to press ahead and bring in some more real quality into the squad.

"You need to have healthy competition for places and we must make sure that the players coming in are of the correct standard and mental attitude for us. Watch this space."

Drogba given lengthy European ban


Drogba hounded referee Ovrebo
Didier Drogba will miss at least four European matches after being banned for his reaction to Chelsea's Champions League semi-final defeat by Barcelona.

The striker was banned for six games, with two suspended for two years.

Team-mate Jose Bosingwa was banned for three European games, with a further one-match ban also suspended. Both players were found guilty of making insulting comments to the referee by Uefa at the end of the game at Stamford Bridge on 6 May where Barcelona scored an injury-time equaliser which eliminated the Blues from the competition.The club was also fined £85,000 for the improper conduct of its players and the throwing of missiles by their fans.

Arsenal confirm Vermaelen signing


Vermaelen was Ajax club captain last season
Arsenal have completed the signing of Belgium defender Thomas Vermaelen from Ajax in a deal worth up to £10m.

The 23-year-old centre-back is a regular at international level and made his debut for Belgium in March 2006.

"Thomas is a great signing for Arsenal and we are all delighted that he is joining us," Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger told the club's website.

"He is a solid performer with good experience of Champions League and Uefa Cup football."

Vermaelen made his debut for Ajax at the age of 18 and made 143 appearances for the side as he worked his way up to become club captain.

"Firstly, I have to say that I'm sad to be leaving Ajax and I would just like to thank everyone for their help and friendship towards me over the past eight years," he said."I'm just so happy to be joining Arsenal. This is a great club with a world-class manager, high-quality players and a fantastic stadium.

"Everything is set up for Arsenal to be very successful for years to come.

"I have had a good taste of the Champions League during my time with Ajax and this is something I am looking forward to experiencing again with Arsenal.

"I'm also looking forward to playing in the English Premier League, which for me, is the best league in the world. Also, I just want to assure the Arsenal fans that I will give everything for this club and I hope we can enjoy winning some trophies together next season."

The defender won the Dutch league in 2004 but leaves Ajax after a disappointing campaign that saw his side finish third in the Eredivisie and out of the Champions League qualifying places.

Since making his international debut in a 2-0 win away to Luxembourg in March 2006, Vermaelen has made 21 appearances for Belgium.

His signing comes after manager Arsene Wenger admitted in a shareholders meeting in May that his side must shore up their defence if they are to close an 18-point gap between themselves and the top of the league.

"In the passing quality in the final third and in the opposition half, we are as good as Manchester United," he said.

"We have conceded more goals and that is where the difference lies; we have conceded 36, they have conceded 24."

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Inter out to land Carvalho & Deco


Carvalho and Deco
Inter Milan have revealed they are hopeful of taking Chelsea pair Ricardo Carvalho and Deco to the San Siro.

The Italian club's former Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho wants both 31-year-olds, who played for him in Porto's Champions League triumph against Monaco in 2004.

Inter president Massimo Moratti told Gazzetta dello Sport talks had begun on defender Carvalho and midfielder Deco.

He said: "Mourinho has asked us for Deco and Carvalho and we are working towards making him happy."

Deco fell from favour after arriving at Chelsea in an £8m move from Barcelona in the summer of 2008 - and recently admitted he hoped to be reunited with Mourinho in Italy.And Carvalho, a success at Stamford Bridge but restricted by injury to only 18 appearances last season, has revealed he wants to leave Chelsea after four years.

Moratti added: "Our wish is to sign both players and I have seen that the players' intention is to join us. We still haven't reached an agreement with Chelsea but I think we will do in a short time."

And Moratti is convinced Carvalho will bring crucial experience to Inter's defence and stated: "We are interested in Carvalho primarily for the Champions League. He has the right experience, he is calm under pressure and brings experience in the defensive line.

"Our coach has guaranteed quality and I have every intention to make him happy.

"Deco will have two tasks: to do well immediately and to help Brazilian player Philippe Coutinho mature as a player. Coutinho will arrive next season from Vasco de Gama and plays in the same role as Deco."

Carvalho was critical of Chelsea as he prepares to make his departure, saying: "When a player plays, everything is beautiful but, when things do not run so well, there is no support.

"I believe my time at Chelsea has come to an end. I am happy such a big club as Inter is interested in me. It would be good to return to working with Jose Mourinho."

Begiristain: Messi Has Become The Best Because Ronaldinho & Deco Left Barcelona


Barcelona champions of europe
Barcelona's technical director, Txiki Begiristain, has come out to defend the club's brave decision to give Ronaldinho and Deco the boot last year following a disastrous campaign, a move that has since paid handsome dividends.

“It was a necessary move because the coach had to work with a proper team and an appropriate squad,” he said during an interview with Barca’s official magazine.

“We thought that it would be too risky to continue with the same players and it wasn’t worth the gamble.

“Besides with the departures, we gave the dressing room a massive shake-up, we freed up space in the squad, we modified some roles and redefined a few others.

“If Lionel Messi is number one today, it is partly because they relinquished their place and that allowed him to take over.”

Txiki then went on to analyse why and how Barca have won plaudits all over the world for their unmistakable style of football, based on the 4-3-3 formation that was pioneered by a certain Dutch master 20 years ago.

“[Johan] Cruyff outlined a system which became the ‘Dream Team’. [Frank] Rijkaard then made it evolve when he adapted the style to today’s game, especially from a physical aspect, and he gave the team a new character,” he theorised.

“Now, what we’re seeing is that Pep Guardiola has continued to evolve Rijkaard’s style. The group work differently, with much more complexity. The other big adjustment is that the team is based on the freedom of the players.

“Pep is the first off-spring of the ‘Dream Team’ and he has made us even more effective.”

Queiroz warning for Ronaldo


Carlos Queiroz has warned Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo of the distractions he could face at Real Madrid.

The Portugal international appears poised to sign for the Primera Division giants after United accepted an £80million bid for his services.

Former Real head coach Queiroz, who had two spells as Red Devils manager Sir Alex Ferguson's No.2, recently backed Ronaldo over the move.

However, Portugal manager Queiroz has also warned his compatriot of a potentially detrimental lifestyle in the Spanish capital.

He said in The Sun: "I have my opinion about my wish regarding the career of Cristiano - and I think Manchester United was the right club for him.

"It's something to do with the fashion, the television, a different game that is in place nowadays.

"I must say that at Real Madrid, these things can happen very easily."

Celtic challenge excites Mowbray


Tony Mowbray

Tony Mowbray says he feels "hugely honoured" after being appointed Celtic's new manager.

Mowbray, 45, told a media conference at Celtic Park on Wednesday that he was relishing the challenge of bringing silverware to the Glasgow club.

The former Celtic defender said he "felt drawn to this opportunity" and that he hoped supporters would watch his side with a sense of pride.

"My initial thoughts: I can't wait to get started, really," he said.

Mowbray arrives from West Brom along with assistant Mark Venus and first-team coach Peter Grant.

He has succeeded Gordon Strachan to become Celtic's 16th manager after the club agreed to pay £2m in compensation to West Brom.

Mowbray said he lived his life by "honesty, integrity, humility and respect" and he hoped to bring those qualities to the Celtic team.He played for Celtic between 1991 and 1995, straddled by spells with Middlesbrough and Ipswich, with whom he started his coaching career.

Present Celtic coach Neil Lennon will remain as part of the Scottish Premier League club's management team.

"I played here for four years in the early 1990s at a time when the club wasn't at its greatest heights," said Mowbray.

"Yet, when I left Celtic, I was overwhelmed by the support the greater family gave me."

Mowbray lost his wife to breast cancer during his playing time at the club and said he received thousands of messages of goodwill and support.

"It leaves you with a warmth and a support system behind you," he said. "When this opportunity arose for me, I felt drawn to it and here I am today."

Celtic chairman John Reid suggested that Mowbray was the natural choice as Strachan's successor.

"Welcome back Tony and, in a very real sense, welcome home," he said.

"Because that's how the Celtic supporters and the wider Celtic family feel. We're absolutely delighted to have secured Tony Mowbray as our manager.

"Tony's career speaks for itself; here and elsewhere as a player and a manager.

"The reason he is here today is because it was our firm view that he's not only shown he can bring football success with flair but he's also shown character, strength and determination."

Reid thought that Mowbray could revive Celtic's fortunes after losing the SPL title to Rangers.

"We've had a degree of success in recent years, but we had a disappointment three weeks and three days ago," he said.

"The fightback starts here and there's nobody better to lead that than Tony."

Friday, June 12, 2009

Milan saved from financial ruin


Kaka's blockbuster move from Milan to Real Madrid has helped keep the club out of financial trouble.

The Brazilian ace move the the Santiago Bernabeu for a €67.2million fee on Monday. Reports before the sale claimed an eventual move was inevitable as the club wanted to bring their accounts in line with its economic policies.

"Kaka's sale has balanced the books at Milan and the directors did well," Milan chief executive officer Fedele Confaloneri told reporters at a meeting in Milan as reported by Il Corriere Dello Sport.

"Certain offers have to be taken into consideration."

The chief is hoping new coach Leonardo can emulate the success enjoyed by former coaches such as Arrigo Sacchi and Fabio Capello.

"We still have a nice team with younger players and a young coach who can be the new Sacchi or Capello," concluded Confaloneri.

Blatter buoyed by Ronaldo fee


FIFA president Sepp Blatter
FIFA president Sepp Blatter believes Real Madrid's massive bid for Ronaldo shows football is a growing industry.

In contrast to comments from UEFA supremo Michel Platini, who yesterday described the world-record £80million fee for the Manchester United winger and Madrid's recent £56million swoop for Kaka as "excessive", Blatter feels it is good for the game.

Speaking ahead of the Confederations Cup in South Africa, Blatter said today: "It means that our product is still a good product. If this is the game of the people, they need stars.

"OK, it is a lot of money, but he is performing. We are in a very sensitive market nowadays because there is an economic crisis. In football, we are still in a good market."

If Ronaldo does follow Kaka in moving to the Spanish capital, then it means Madrid will have made the four most expensive signings (in euros) in history, having also splashed out huge money on Zinedine Zidane and Luis Figo during Florentino Perez's previous term as president from 2000-06.

Madrid also lavished big fees on the likes of Brazilian forward Ronaldo and David Beckham as part of the club's famous 'galacticos' policy in Perez's first tenure, and Blatter believes the current situation is not too different to how it was a decade ago.

"Almost 10 years ago, Luis Figo went from Barcelona to Real Madrid for £37million," he said. "So what is £80million now? That means there is still demand to have a star."

Meanwhile, new Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini believes it is only natural that players like Ronaldo and Kaka want to be part of the "great team" being constructed by the Spanish giants this summer.

Aside from those two players, other big names are also believed to be in the pipeline for Madrid, most notably Valencia striker David Villa who Spanish media claim could complete his move to the Bernabeu next week.

It has been a breathless few weeks since Perez returned to the presidency, and an impressed Pellegrini, who was installed as the replacement for Juande Ramos just 24 hours after Perez took power, said: "This is a very important time for Real Madrid.

"Florentino Perez has taken charge of the club and, in Jorge Valdano, has been joined by someone who has links to all areas of the football hierarchy.

"They are making a great team and it's natural that players want to join Real Madrid."

Although Kaka is the only player currently confirmed as a new arrival, Perez has talked about making five or six signings this summer.

Half of those places could be taken up by Kaka, Ronaldo and Villa, while there are no shortage of names being bandied about to make up the remainder of the list, such as Franck Ribery, David Silva, Raul Albiol and Xabi Alonso.

However, Pellegrini does not feel it is set in stone how many players Madrid will bring in this summer.

"There is not a fixed number (of reinforcements). We are trying to build a squad, not just a team. We know that Real Madrid will play in three tournaments next year and we don't want to leave any of them to one side."

When quizzed about which specific players Madrid were targeting, the former Villarreal coach added: "I'd prefer not talk about future speculation, because there are lots of names of players going around who could go to Real Madrid."

With Madrid set to smash all transfer records this summer, questions have been raised about how the Spanish giants will finance their shopping spree and if they will end up being saddled with huge debts.

Perez has moved to ease those fears though, claiming that signing players such as Ronaldo and Kaka will actually strengthen the club financially - despite the huge initial outlay on transfer fees.

When asked about the possibility of Madrid being saddled with big debts, Perez told La Gazzetta dello Sport: "On the contrary, we believe we can improve our accounts by aiming for three goals - increasing ticket sales, increasing bank loans and increasing the club's economic value."

He added: "Real Madrid takes about 400 million (euros) a year, the fruit of three sources of income - a third from ticket sales, a third from television rights and a third from merchandising."

Watch Barcelona president Juan Laporta's response to Real Madrid's recent record-breaking signings

Rooney more important than Ronaldo


Wayne Rooney
The PFA believes Manchester United would have had more to fear if Wayne Rooney had left Old Trafford rather than Cristiano Ronaldo.

United have confirmed they had accepted a world record £80million bid from Real Madrid for Ronaldo yesterday, with the staggering transfer set to be concluded by June 30.

Most Red Devils supporters have reacted with a shrug, believing the deal is best for all parties given the massive sum of money involved, providing Sir Alex Ferguson gets it to spend on the team rather than it be used to pay off the Glazer family's huge debt.

And, while PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor accepts Ronaldo's departure leaves a big hole for Ferguson to fill, he would have been more concerned if Rooney had quit.

"It is an interesting question and a difficult decision but as an Englishman, if I was asked to make a choice between the two I would have Wayne Rooney," declared Taylor.

"Wayne has not been far away from being one of the best players in the world for a long time and certainly the way he finished off the season bodes well for Manchester United and England.

"Anyone would want a player of Cristiano Ronaldo's calibre in their team but I would certainly not view his departure as a backward step for Manchester United at all."

Rooney's outstanding form for England, where he had been used in his favoured position just behind a main striker suggests Ferguson might be thinking that way for the 23-year-old at United too.

Despite claiming 12 months ago he had not been fair to Rooney by playing him out wide, Ronaldo's ineffective defending meant Ferguson was forced to utilise him in that role again towards the end of the season.

Ronaldo's exit allows Ferguson to reshape his team slightly to make the most of Rooney's blossoming talent.

If the former Everton star could come up with an extra 10 goals a season, and a new winger, possibly Franck Ribery in addition to the expected arrival of Antonio Valencia, contribute another 10, United would be two-thirds of the way towards matching Ronaldo's contribution, given his astonishing 42-goal haul is unlikely to be repeated by anyone.

Ferguson would also reason that having someone slightly less selfish in his team might bring more out of others.

There were plenty of signs last season - quite apart from his disgraceful reaction to being substituted against Manchester City - that Ronaldo was more interested in himself than his club, posturing that will not be missed, even if his unique skills are a sad loss to the English game as a whole.

"Although he has become more of a team player there was still a significant individual element to the way Ronaldo played," said Taylor.

"Manchester United have always had a very strong team ethic, so it will be interesting to see how Ronaldo's style fits in to the pattern at Real Madrid."

Having made his bold decision, Ferguson will know what plan needs to be activated, even if the danger of paying over the odds for Ribery, and Carlos Tevez, who remains undecided about his own future, is acute.

Lyon's Karim Benzema is bound to come into the Scot's thinking, while there must also be a nagging fear stories about Nemanja Vidic's wife being unhappy in England may result in the Serbian becoming unsettled.

It adds up to an uncertain time for a club who only just failed to become the first to retain the Champions League and, in August, will bid to be the first side in English soccer history to win four titles on the trot.

Yet, as Taylor acknowledges, if anyone has the experience to guide the Red Devils through such choppy waters, it is Ferguson.

"Manchester United have lost top players before and continued to be successful, it is the nature of the game," he said.

"The money being offered was pretty big for a lad who kept saying he wanted to play for Real Madrid.

"Sir Alex has been through this kind of thing plenty of times before and I am sure he will use the money that is made available to strengthen a squad that is already the best in the world."

Christiano Ronaldo - Is he going to be a success at Real Madrid


Christiano Ronaldo
Finally the time has come for the magician from Portugal to leave England and find his place among the Catalans. But is he going to be a success at Madrid ????

Before 3 years Ronaldo was considered only a showoff with few numbers under his sleeves . He was a big game flop and fell down too easily (which still goes on ). Wayne Rooney was considered the better of the two. But after the departure of van Nistelrooy again to Madrid Ronaldo claimed the center stage . It was born out of necessity as Sir Alex gave him the license to roam . With his speed , dribbling and eye for goals he stole the headlines but the actual work was done buy Rooney , Giggs ,Carrick .......

Ronaldo claimed every soft goals ,penalties and free kicks .Most of the time Rooney has to sacrifice his favoured position just behind a main striker due to Ronaldo's ineffective defending meant Ferguson was forced to utilise him playing out wide. It should be seen how Roanaldo adapts to the Madrid set up .With Raul , Kaka and other super stars .United was best suited for him

There were plenty of signs last season - quite apart from his disgraceful reaction to being substituted against Manchester City - that Ronaldo was more interested in himself than his club, posturing that will not be missed. Giving posession cheaply and not even trying to get it back . Trying to make referees take decisions in his favour . Even trying to referee a game.

But the English game is going to miss one of its most famous talents . There will no longer be those trade mark free kicks , step overs ....

United have lost their top players before and Sir Alex knows what is best for the club . It is time for Wayne Rooney to claim the head lines as now doing for his national side

Hughes: Fergie knows best


Hughes v Fergie
Mark Hughes believes Sir Alex Ferguson is only letting Ronaldo leave United as it is in his best interests.

United confirmed this morning they have accepted a world-record £80million bid for the FIFA World Player of the Year from Real Madrid, with a deal likely to be concluded by June 30.

The news is bound to be greeted with some scepticism given Ferguson's previous statements on the matter, including a famous declaration that he "would not sell that mob a virus" when speculation of a deal with Real being done arose last December.

Mixed with that will be an anxiety about where United go from here, knowing Carlos Tevez is also likely to leave this summer.

But Manchester City manager Hughes feels certain Ferguson has only made his decision because he believes the Red Devils will emerge as a stronger force.

"There seems to have been a lot of speculation about Ronaldo's future for a number of seasons, to the extent it has started to become predictable," said Hughes.

"Obviously Manchester United feel it is good business for them.

"Sir Alex Ferguson makes key decisions very quickly and I suspect he will have been very much involved in what has happened.

"He has made what he thinks is the right decision for the club and we have to respect that."

Hughes has been interested to see the positive light in which Real's approach for Ronaldo and their world-record £56million purchase of Kaka has been viewed.

The reaction compares sharply to the adverse publicity City received for their own, unsuccessful, approach for Kaka last January.

"It is a significant amount of money and I am sure Real Madrid will be very pleased with the business they have been able to do," said Hughes.

"Obviously we pursued one of the players involved and the reaction that approach was viewed in was somewhat different."

Hughes certainly does not believe Real's vast spending will have a negative impact on the transfer market, given his old club now have vast spending power, with an expectancy a replacement for Ronaldo will be brought in quickly.

"If anything, it will stimulate the market," he said.

"There is a lot of money out there now, with some big clubs eager to spend it. It should make for an interesting market now."

Glazers to fund Ferguson spree


Manchester United owners the Glazer family have confirmed Sir Alex Ferguson has the green light to strengthen his squad this summer.

The Red Devils have a void to fill in their side with superstar Cristiano Ronaldo set to join Real Madrid in a world record £80million deal.

United have been linked with a host of players this summer, including the likes of Antonio Valencia, Karim Benzema and Franck Ribery.

The club are sure to bring in at least one forward in the close season with Carlos Tevez's future unclear following the conclusion of his loan spell at Old Trafford.

In the meantime fans' fears that the club will not reinvest the proceeds from Ronaldo's proposed sale back into Ferguson's playing squad have been eased by the Glazers.

"The decision reflects Cristiano's desire to move on and the manager has accepted that," confirmed a Glazer spokesman.

"The Glazer family as owners, have always supported the manager since their takeover and that is again the situation."

Calderon: Agreement was in place


Former Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon claims an agreement existed over Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer before he left his post.

Real had an £80million offer for the Portuguese accepted by Manchester United yesterday, less than two weeks after Florentino Perez returned as the Bernabeu club's supremo.

Perez has been credited with immediately instilling the 'Galacticos' culture of his previous reign, with a deal for Kaka clinched earlier this week.

However, Calderon, who came close to signing Ronaldo last summer, insists he was responsible for much of the groundwork that led to yesterday's events.

"We were in touch with the player. That is the important thing to know now," Calderon told The Sun.

"As far as I knew, he got the agreement with the club. He wanted to leave at the end of this season.

"That was what he agreed with the club and therefore it was easy, knowing that the player wanted to come to Real Madrid, to get a deal let's say. We agreed everything and he decided to come."

Calderon added: "Let's say it was a gentleman's agreement in order not to bother Manchester last season, because (United manager, Sir Alex) Ferguson also wanted to keep the player.

"For this reason we decided to wait until this season and that is what has happened."

Is it wise to spent 100 million euros on a player ?????


Real Madrid in a span of days spent 56 million pounds on Kaka and agreed a deal worth 80 million pounds for Christiano Ronaldo . Is it worth to pay such high amounts for a single player ? That too on time of recession when the number of unemployment is on rise and people are spending with strings tied around their wallet ..

Whatever be the reason that the Spanish outfit is paying such heavy sums on players is ridiculous and their shopping list is not complete yet . Some new players will find a place on their hit list and they will publicly go for the player like what happened to United

It is the time for Michael Platini to act rather than accusing English clubs . For the last one year Madrid was after Ronaldo and Platini was trying to regulate the transfer activities of English clubs . With the amount they are spending on a single player is more than the budget of many nations it is time for somebody to act

Ronaldo proud of Real bid


Cristiano Ronaldo has expressed his delight after Real Madrid agreed a world record deal of £80million with Manchester United for his services.

The Red Devils confirmed they had accepted the fee for the Portugal international, who is currently on holiday in the United States, on Thursday.

Ronaldo is flattered that two of the world's biggest clubs want him to play for them and says the £80million Real are willing to splash out on his signature is an 'historic' deal.

The 24-year-old 2008 World Player of the Year is yet to agree personal terms with Real and insists that his minor hernia injury will not require surgery or delay a deal.

"It's flattering when two of the top teams in the world want you to play for them," he told Fox Sports.

"The deal is historic - £80m is quite a sum of money.

"I learned about the deal here in LA and have heard from my people that Manchester United have accepted.

"However, I have also been told that Madrid want to have a medical team look at me as expected.

"I do not require surgery. The hernia is nothing to worry about.

"I am on vacation and will remain in LA a bit more."

United fans have demanded all the £80million received from Real for Ronaldo is reinvested in the team - with Carlos Tevez top of their wish-list.

United have been trying to broker a deal with Tevez's advisor Kia Joorabchian, who had a meeting with chief executive David Gill last week aimed at resolving the matter.

However, with a world-record fee at their disposal if, as expected, Ronaldo moves to the Bernabeu later this month, United supporters see no reason to stall any longer, while Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery and Antonio Valencia of Wigan remain major targets.

Most United supporters will be happy to accept Ferguson's judgement on a player who nearly left Old Trafford last summer, since when his elaborate posturing and ego have only increased.

But, as compensation for losing the world player of the year, they want an assurance the massive fee will not be used to pay off part of the Glazer family's £650million debt.

"There is no information that it is anything other than the manager's decision but obviously there is huge pressure on the owners and it is a temptation when you are offered that much money," said Duncan Drasdo, chairman of the Manchester United Supporters Trust.

"That is exactly why we want to see a commitment from the owners that the money is going to remain within the club and available to strengthen the squad.

"We have sold the best player in the world. That is a big disappointment. If the money is reinvested into the club at least it will soften the blow."

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ibrahimovic coy on transfer reports


Inter Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is unfazed by transfer rumours and admits he already knows where his future lies.

The Sweden international has been strongly linked with a move to the Primera Liga this summer with Barcelona among the clubs keen to sign him.

"I speak to my agent every day and I know already what my future is," Ibrahimovic told Swedish network TV 4 after his national team's 4-0 triumph over Malta on yesterday.

"I prefer not to reveal it for the time being where I will play as I'd rather keep it to myself.

"I am not worried, in fact, I feel very well."

Inter denied last night they have reached an agreement with Barcelona over the transfer of Ibrahimovic.

The 27-year-old, who finished as Serie A's top scorer with 25 goals, is under contract with the Italian champions until June 2010.

Barca stunned beyond belief


Barcelona finance director Xavier Sala i Martin is bewildered as to how Real Madrid are funding their summer spending spree.

With a reported transfer budget of 300million euros at their disposal, Madrid president Florentino Perez has this week set about creating a second 'galacticos' era.

The Spanish giants today had a world-record bid of £80million for Portugal winger Cristiano Ronaldo accepted by Manchester United, hot on the heels of Monday's 68million euros acquisition of Brazil playmaker Kaka from AC Milan.

And Sala i Martin, whose team finished nine points clear of Madrid at the Primera Division summit last month, is puzzled by how the purchases are being financed.

He told Radio Station RAC1: "I don't know where the 300million euros that Florentino Perez expects to invest on signings are coming from.

"He says he will recover that money by selling shirts but, in order to do that, he will have to sell 30million shirts.

"That is impossible."

Sala i Martin is stunned Madrid are able to spend so much money in such a difficult economic climate.

He added: "I guess someone will have to give him that money and it would be good for him to explain where it will come from.

"How can it be that a football team is loaned so much money, considering the current financial crisis in the country and the policy of restricting credits that banks are currently following?

"I can assure you that we will not pay 65million euros for a player.

"For that amount we would buy the whole Barcelona team that won the Champions League in Rome."

United accept Ronaldo offer


Christano Ronaldo
Manchester United have confirmed they have accepted a bid from Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo's future at United has been the subject of constant speculation, with Real having trailed his signature for the last three summers.

Real president Florentino Perez has made no secret of the fact that he would like to lure Ronaldo to El Santiago Bernabeu.

The Spanish titans have now agreed an £80million offer for the Portuguese ace and United have given the World Player of the Year permission to talk to the capital club.

Ronaldo will head to the Spanish capital to hold discussions with Real and undergo a medical.

Real have already snapped up Brazilian superstar Kaka in a world-record deal, but a move for Ronaldo would significantly eclipse that figure.

"Manchester United have received a world-record, unconditional offer of £80million for Cristiano Ronaldo from Real Madrid," read a club statement.

"At Cristiano's request - who has again expressed his desire to leave - and after discussion with the player's representatives, United have agreed to give Real Madrid permission to talk to the player.

"Matters are expected to be concluded by 30th June. The club will not comment until further notice."

Real confirmed the news in a brief statement on their website, adding that they hoped to finalise matters as soon as possible.

"Real Madrid confirm they have made an offer to Manchester United for the acquisition of the rights of the player Cristiano Ronaldo. The club hope to reach an agreement with the player in the next few days."

The news is bound to be greeted with some scepticism by United fans, who have repeatedly been told no deal had been agreed for the sale of FIFA's World Player of the Year in the face of regular statements from Spain the former Sporting Lisbon star was bound for the Bernabeu.

It was even suggested Ronaldo would be due a £20million compensation fee from Real if the deal did not go through by June 30, the date United now state themselves as when they expect matters to be concluded.

It now remains to be seen where the transfer fee could be reinvested in a squad that almost, but not quite, proved good enough to win back-to-back Champions League trophies, in addition to a hat-trick of Premier League titles.

The name of Bayern Munich's Franck Ribery is bound to crop up as a potential replacement, although the 27-year-old seems overpriced at the £40million figure being bandied about in some quarters, with Wigan's Antonio Valencia also in the frame.

Ferguson will certainly be making plans already to ensure his new faces are on board before United head to Asia for their pre-season tour.

Amid the frenzy over Ronaldo's impending departure, it is bound to be asked whether the current debt hanging over United of almost £700million has played any part in the decision to accept Real's huge bid.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

European football looks into another transfer mayhem


With Florentino Perez at their head Real Madrid started their pursuit of the hottest possessions in Football . It is claimed that they have already made agreements with world record amounts for Kaka , Ronaldo ...... their wish list goes on

England is not behind . Oil rich Manchester City leads the chase in England with Chelsea not so behind . Almost 100 million pounds for a player , that too on times like this of recession . It's ridiculous

1. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
2. Maicon (Inter Milan)
3. Yuri Zhirkov (CSKA Moscow)
4. Nemanja Vidic (Man Utd)
5. Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea)
6. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
7. Cristiano Ronaldo (Man Utd)
8. Kaka (AC Milan)
9. David Villa (Valencia)
10. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter)
11. Franck Ribery (Bayern)
Subs: Joleon Lescott, Xabi Alonso, Carlos Tevez, Sergio Aguero, Samuel Eto'o

Rijkaard takes Galatasaray post


Frank Rijkaard
Frank Rijkaard has been appointed technical director of Turkish side Galatasaray, replacing Bulent Korkmaz.

The 46-year-old had been out of football since leaving his post as Barcelona coach at the end of the 2007/2008 season.

Rijkaard, a former Dutch international, took over at Barcelona in 2003 and won La Liga in 2005 and 2006, as well as the Champions League in 2006.

He also had a two-year spell as Holland coach from 1998-2000.

Ciro Ferrara lands Juventus post


Ciro Ferrara
Ciro Ferrara has been appointed the new coach of Juventus, the Serie A club confirmedon Friday.

Ferrara replaced the sacked Claudio Ranieri on an interim basis earlier this month after a poor run of form which threatened the club's bid for an automatic Champions League berth.

Under Ferrara, Juve beat Siena 3-0 and won 2-0 against Lazio to pip AC Milan in the race to finish second in Serie A.

Ferrara, 42, has now been asked to take up the reins on a permanent basis and has signed a two-year deal with the Turin club.

A statement on team website read: "Ciro Ferrara, a symbol of Juventus, has given his availability to begin this exciting adventure with Juventus: to coach the club where as a player he won everything, and he has remained faithful to the club in guiding for the last three seasons the youth team. He has a two-year contract."

The former Juventus star will be officially presented to the press on Saturday.

It's Real or nowhere for Kaka


AC Milan general manager Adriano Galliani is adamant that Kaka will either sign for Real Madrid or stay at the San Siro.

With speculation rife about the future of the talented Brazil international, Milan's hierarchy are refusing to admit that Kaka will definitely be sold but have said that if the attacking midfielder was to move it would not be to Chelsea.

Madrid were thought to be first in the queue to acquire Kaka's services, although their attempts are being hampered by Chelsea's reported interest. Both clubs would have to part with a world record transfer fee to sign the 27-year-old star.

"Ricky didn't want to go to Man City (in January), instead he wanted to go to Madrid," Galliani told Gazzetta dello Sport.

"An agreement with Chelsea could not exist. Kaka goes to Real or he remains at Milan. That is his will and we are doing everything in complete agreement."

"Negotiations (with Real) do exist, but an agreement is not done.

"Kaka has behaved very professionally with us, he has never asked for his deal to be revised or his contract extended.

"He has been here six years and won everything there is to win. But we can't afford to miss out on 70million euros (£60.8m). The motivation behind Kaka's sale would be economical."

"I also want to put Milan supporters at ease. We are not reshaping," Galliani added.

"It will not be that we sell Kaka and don't sign anybody. Should Kaka leave, we will bring in a big striker."

An announcement on Kaka's transfer saga is expected on Monday.

Perez to lure Ronaldo with a smile


Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid's pursuit of Cristiano Ronaldo will be conducted with the utmost professionalism according to Florentino Perez.

The recently installed Madrid president is in the midst of reviving the galactico era at the Bernabeu, and with the arrival of Kaka virtually guaranteed, Perez has now turned his attention to Manchester United's prized asset - just as Madrid did last summer.

However, unlike that previous transfer saga - a long and protracted tale of claims, counterclaims and downright bitterness - the Madrid supremo is adamant that things will be done the right way this time around as they attempt to secure the services of player who has a £80 million buyout clause in his United contract.

"From what I hear, there is an agreement between the player and his club," Perez told The Times newspaper.

"If one day there is a chance of him playing for Real Madrid, that would be an honour for us.

"But if I had to choose between the friendship with Manchester United and the signing of Ronaldo, I would choose the friendship.

"Plus, I have never said that Cristiano will arrive in June. That is an arrogant and false statement.

"Cristiano is, of course, a player we are interested in, he is one of the best in the world."

Not that Perez is intending to stop with Ronaldo.

Bayern Munich ace Franck Ribery, Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso and Valencia favourite David Villa are also on his radar, although Perez is determined to make friends throughout all of Real's transfer negotiations over the coming weeks.

"I shall be talking with United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, and their chief executive David Gill to build bridges," he said.

"If we sign Kaka from Milan, I can assure you that we will still have a very good relationship with their general manager Adriano Galliani.

"Of course, we want the best players to join us here - but only if their club wants to sell them. Ask Gill, David Dein and Roman Abramovich.

"I have an excellent relationship with them and it is essential to me that continues. I represent a club where elegance and gentlemanliness has been always our flag.

"Ronaldo or whoever will come if their club wants to sell. To force through a situation is very bad for our image. If someone has acted in that way at some point, I offer my apologies and can assure you that it will not happen again."

"I am not a betting man, but whatever happens I will still leave friends in Manchester."

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Ancelotti eyes Champions League title


New Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti has wasted no time in declaring his aim to win the Champions League for the Blues.

Chelsea have never won this competition and they nearly did it last season in Moscow.But former Blues boss Avram Grant did not deliver the trophy that Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich desires the most.

Enter Ancelotti - an Italian who has twice won the Champions League as a player and twice as a manager with the Rossoneri.

The 49-year-old has signed a three-year contract with the Blues just hours after stepping down as AC Milan coach.

Ancelotti announced his arrival as Chelsea boss when he spoke in English on Chelsea TV.

He said: "For me, the Champions League is a beautiful sensation. When I played I won two times, in 1989 and 1990. It was a fantastic moment.

"It was the same when I was a coach in Milan in 2003 and 2007. The Champions League, for me, is the best competition in the world and everyone wants to win.

"Chelsea has a great record, five semi-finals in six years is a beautiful score, but now we have a need to win. I hope!"

The Italian has also stated his blue-print of what he would like to build at Stamford Bridge.

"I like to be close with the players. I like to be close with the company. I like to speak with people. I believe in team-work, it is the most important thing to create a group to work together to build a dream," he said.

"To have a strong organisation, to have a strong discipline, to have the right motivation. I hope to do this together because this is the right way to arrive to success.

"I want to bring my experience, I want to bring my individual quality. To win is important, to work together is the most important thing. To have great motivation, to have a right objective.

"At Chelsea it is easy to find the objective. Win the Champions League, win the Premier League, win the FA Cup, win the Carling Cup.

"Naturally, it is not easy, but the right way is to create a group of people who work well together."

Ancelotti has also admitted learning a new language is also important to him.

"This is my first interview in English and, for me, it is not easy. I want to learn and I want to improve," he admitted.

"When we start the new season I will speak well because it is important for me to speak with the players, the team, the assistant and with all the operators who will work with me."

RVN and Diarra return to Real training


Rud van Nistelrooy
Real Madrid have welcomed back Ruud van Nistlerooy and Mahamadou Diarra back to light training.
The pair has been out of actiom after months out with injury.

They completed their session without any problems or incidents.

It is now hoped that the duo can return to full training in time for pre-season.

Dutch striker van Nistelrooy has been out of action for seven months, after injuring himself on November 5 with five minutes remaining in the match against Juventus.

A week after the incident he underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee; an operation that would keep him sidelined for the rest of the season.

Now, seven months later, he is showing the first signs of recovery and no doubt Madrid fans will be pleased to see him back.

Midfielder enforcer Diarra injured his right knee on October 11 whilst with the Malian national team and, even though he was back in action later that month, he had to be operated on in December.

He was predicted to be out for six to nine months and new coach Manuel Pellegrini will be hoping to have him fit for next season.

Real appoint Pellegrini as coach


 Manuel Pellegrini
Real Madrid have appointed Villarreal boss Manuel Pellegrini as their new coach to replace Juande Ramos.

Pellegrini, who becomes the Spanish giants' eighth coach in five years, spent five seasons with Villarreal.

The 55-year-old Chilean was the longest-serving coach in La Liga, where he moved from Argentina after spells in charge of San Lorenzo and River Plate.

Real have paid Villarreal a reported 4m euros (£3.4m) in compensation for the services of Pellegrini.

The statement, on the club website, confirmed: "Real Madrid and Manuel Pellegrini have reached a deal for the Chilean coach to be the first team head coach during the forthcoming season."

Pellegrini, who will be presented at a media conference on Tuesday, signed a two-year contract extension with Villarreal in December 2007.

But Real have moved quickly at the end of the 2008-09 campaign to secure his services after a disappointing campaign. The move coincides with the appointment of new president, Florentino Perez, who arrives at the Santiago Bernabeu for a second time with Zinedine Zidane as an advisor.

Perez has already indicated that AC Milan's Brazilian playmaker Kaka is the number one player target for the nine-time European champions.

Real have also been strongly linked to Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool's midfielder Xabi Alonso and Bayern Munich's winger Franck Ribery.

Pellegrini's switch from the 'Yellow Submarine' is seen as a major step to bring some much-needed stability to the Spanish giants, after bitter rivals Barcelona won the Copa del Rey, La Liga and the Champions League.

Since coach Vicente del Bosque was sacked by Perez in 2003 after winning two Champions Leagues and two league titles, the club have seen Carlos Queiroz, Jose Antonio Camacho, Mariana Garcia Remon, Wanderley Luxemburgo, Juan Ramon Lopez Caro, Fabio Capello, Schuster and Ramos come and go.

Chelsea out to scupper Kaka move


Chelsea have moved to set up talks between Kaka and Roman Abramovich to try to prise the Brazilian out of Real Madrid’s hands.

The Blues know that Kaka would prefer a move to the Bernabeu but could just outbid Real with a £56m bid this week.

Despite reports that the Brazilian midfielder is close to a move to Real Madrid, Kaka is still at the top of the list of names that Chelsea are keen to sign this offseason and Abramovich has his cheque book on standby to enter a bidding war with Los Blancos if necessary.

Although Kaka has often reiterated his desire to stay, the signs from Milan - namely his representatives and father Bosco Leite - point to Kaka moving and bids are now being considered by AC Milan.

The midfield maestro would be receiving a pay packet of around £150,000 a week, which would set a new standard in the Stamford Bridge wage structure.

Chelsea's Russian owner Abramovich and club director Eugene Tenenbaum are confident that club stars John Terry and Frank Lampard will welcome the deal. Both players are the top earners at the club at £135,000 a week but any move to restructure their deals with the acquisition of Kaka would not be allowed.

Chelsea have re-signed Michael Ballack for another year, though he's had to take a pay cut from the £131,000 that he's been getting when he arrived from Bayern Munich in 2006.

The Germany captain was then blessed with the benefit of arriving on a free transfer and was given a big signing-on fee along with his weekly pay. The 32-year-old said: "I am very happy to be staying at Chelsea for one more year."

Carvalho ready to leave Chelsea


Ricardo Carvalho
Chelsea centre-back Ricardo Carvalho has made it clear he is ready to leave Stamford Bridge this summer in search of first-team football.

The Portugal international, 31, is unhappy that he made only 18 appearances for the Blues last season.

"I have had four extraordinary years at Chelsea until this year, which has not been very good - indeed it was the worst of my career," he said.

"I am available for a club who wishes to have me."

Carvalho joined Chelsea from Porto in July 2004 for a fee of about £20m and has played 174 times for the club, helping them to win two Premier League titles, two League Cups and an FA Cup.

But he was hampered by injuries last season, suffering knee ligament damage and a thigh problem that kept him out for almost two months. Carvalho admitted "I wasn't in great shape" but insisted it was because he had not played many matches.

Looking to the future, he added: "I am delighted that several clubs are interested in me. But before being approached, an agreement must be found with Chelsea."

Carvalho last played for Chelsea in the 4-4 draw with Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-final second leg on 14 April.

And he appeared to be out of favour under interim Chelsea boss Guus Hiddink, prompting his declaration of intent to move on.

However, Carvalho appeared to leave the door open for reassessment under incoming manger Carlo Ancelotti, who officially takes over on 1 July.

"If there is no transfer, I will be fine at Chelsea," he said.

Ballack extends stay at Chelsea


Michael Ballack
Michael Ballack has agreed a new one-year extension to his contract with Chelsea, which will keep him at the club until June 2010.

The Germany international, 32, had been discussing a new deal with the FA Cup winners, who appointed Italian Carlo Ancelotti as their new coach on 1 June.

The midfielder told the club website: "I am very happy to be staying here.

"It was always my intention to stay until at least the World Cup in South Africa in 2010."

Ballack, who suffered an injury-hit start to the 2008/09 season, has won the FA Cup twice, plus the Carling Cup in his time at Stamford Bridge.

"We had a fantastic end to the season, winning the FA Cup, and we are all looking forward to taking this success into the new season under Carlo Ancelotti, our new manager," added Ballack.

A Chelsea statement added: "Michael has been a key member of our team for three years so we are naturally very happy that we have agreed the extension."

The German was signed from Bayern Munich a free transfer in May 2006 by former Blues boss Jose Mourinho.

Ancelotti succeeds Guus Hiddink at the London club, who guided the Blues to FA Cup victory this season as well as steering the club to third place in the Premier League.

Ballack won three league titles during his four years at Bundesliga giants Bayern, and has 89 caps for Germany, scoring 39 goals.

It was revealed in March that Ballack has been promised the captaincy of the German national team at the World Cup in South Africa, if he is both fit and the three-times winners qualify.

Germany are top the Group Four table, ahead of nearest rivals Russia.

Milan set deadline for Kaka


Kaka's future is likely to be determined on Monday, according to AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi.

The Italian prime minister appeared on state television tonight to say that "there is still no decision" on whether the Brazil international will move to Real Madrid.

Hours before Berlusconi's appearance, Chelsea issued a statement denying reports they had tabled a bid of £73.5 million for the 27-year-old. Real Madrid's bid is reportedly worth £56 million.

Berlusconi, speaking to Rai, said he would first speak to the player, who is on international duty with Brazil this weekend, before announcing a decision.

"I will meet Kaka on Monday and then I'll tell you," Berlusconi said, before hinting that Kaka has elected to go.

"It is always the players who decide on their future, who have to decide how to pursue their career," he added.

"I did all I could but in the end he took his decision."

If Kaka does leave Milan, it seems that Madrid is his most likely destination.

Chelsea today moved to dismiss claims they were seeking to hijack the move after bringing in coach Carlo Ancelotti from Milan.

A statement on the club's official website read: "We have never made an offer to AC Milan for Kaka and therefore not one at this extraordinary level.

"As a consequence we have not discussed a salary with the player either.

"Any reports to the contrary are totally untrue."

Kaka's future has been in question since January, when Manchester City launched an audacious £100 million bid to sign him.

Kaka was a bit-part player in Brazil's World Cup winning squad in 2002, but has blossomed ever since.

He joined Milan from Sao Paulo back in 2003 for a fee of around 8.5million euros and won the Serie A title in his first season at the club.

He was a member of the Milan team that beat Liverpool in the Champions League final in 2007, while also winning the FIFA World Player of the Year award and the Ballon d'Or in that year.

A devout Christian, Kaka gained Italian citizenship in 2007 and has repeatedly stated his desire to stay in Milan.

An exasperated Kaka told Gazetto dello Sport on Tuesday: "I'll say it for the last time. The last time. I don't want to leave Milan.

"To the millions of Milan supporters, I say that I have made my choice. I have said I want to stay. Leave me in peace, please."

However, the Rossoneri's willingness to sell the Brazil star to City in the winter was reported to have unsettled him and opened the door to a possible future transfer.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Drogba will accept UEFA punishment


Chelsea striker Didier Drogba has indicated he will accept whatever punishment UEFA give him for his misdemeanors.

Incensed by decisions made by referee Tom Henning Ovrebo, Drogba ranted at the official and repeatedly swore into a live television camera after the Champions League semi-final defeat to Barcelona.

He could be banned for up to six games but has apologised for the tirade and said: "It's not easy but I think that whatever I did and the decision they take I will accept it because my behaviour was not what UEFA and everyone wants to see in a football stadium.

"I will do my suspension and, after that, I will come back stronger."

Leonardo lands Milan job


AC Milan moved quickly to replace the departing Carlo Ancelotti by immediately installing Leonardo as his replacement.

Ancelotti stood down as coach in the wake of Milan's 2-0 win at Fiorentina - a result which confirmed they finished third in Serie A and qualified automatically for the group stages of next season's Champions League.

Club vice-president Adriano Galliani confirmed former AC Milan and Brazil playmaker Leonardo, who has been working for the club as technical area activities manager, will be his successor.

Galliani said: "Leonardo is our new coach and will be presented at the San Siro tomorrow at midday."

Ancelotti is widely expected to be confirmed as the new coach of Chelsea for next season, but he would not be drawn on where his future lies.

"Today is not the day for that," he said. "I have had eight great years here and I want to thank everybody who has been with me over these years.

"That is all I can say today."

Ancelotti, 49, stated his departure was agreed after the final whistle.

He said: "It was decided by mutual consent after the game after we reached our minimum aim for this season.

"Our roads will separate next season."

Although Ancelotti could not confirm he will become the next coach of the Blues, he did at least reveal that he would not be joining another Serie A club.

"I am certainly not staying in Italy," he added. "But it is not certain that I am going to London for sure."

Asked if had spoken to anyone at Chelsea, he replied: "No."

Ancelotti was named Milan coach in November 2001 after a spell at Juventus and led the Rossoneri to one Serie A title and two Champions League triumphs.

He had previously served the club with great distinction as a player for over 15 years.

Leonardo is also a former Milan player.

He joined the club from Paris St Germain in 1997 and remained at the San Siro for four seasons before going back to his native Brazil.

He returned to Milan in 2003 before hanging up his boots after making 60 appearances for his country.

Since then he has spent his time working in the media and helping out with various charities.

He was named as part of Milan's technical staff early last year.

Barca loss 'to motivate Man Utd'


Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs says defeat in this season's Champions League final will motivate the side to challenge for honours next year.

United were outclassed by Barcelona on Wednesday night in Rome, losing 2-0 to the Spanish side.

"Everyone is disappointed and no-one wants to lose a final but we will try to get back there next year," he said.

"We have got to keep improving, that is what great teams and great players do, look forward to the next challenge."

Goals from Samuel Eto'o and Lionel Messi for Barcelona put paid to United's hopes of becoming the first side to retain the Champions League title, after their penalty shoot-out victory over Chelsea 12 months ago.

Giggs says United must use the defeat as a springboard to reaching the Champions League final for a third successive year."We will look to get to a third consecutive Champions final. That is the challenge we have got next year," he said.

Giggs also feels United must not allow the disappointment of Wednesday's defeat to detract from what has been another successful season, with the club having claimed a third successive Premier League title as well as the Carling Cup and Fifa World Club Cup.

"It has been a fantastic season and we must not forget that. We have achieved so much," he said.

"To win three Premier League titles on the trot is an unbelievable thing to do and now we must look to make it four."

Speculation is already rife about what potential changes United manager Alex Ferguson may make to ready the squad to challenge in the 2009-10 season.They have been linked again with big-money moves for Lyon striker Karim Benzema and Wigan winger Luiz Antonio Valencia.

Inevitably, the long-running saga of Cristiano Ronaldo's potential move to Real Madrid has resurfaced, with the player seemingly doing little to dispel them.

"I don't want to talk about clubs, I want to rest," said Ronaldo. "I've played many games under a lot of pressure. The future... we'll see."

United still need to make a decision on the future of Carlos Tevez, with a £25m permanent transfer still in the balance and a host of other clubs, including Liverpool and Manchester City, apparently readying bids.

"It has not been a good time for me because I believe that I should have played more minutes," Tevez told the Daily Mirror. "My future will now be decided. My agents are negotiating and I am waiting to hear some news."

Midfielders Ji-Sung Park and Nani and goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak are all rumoured to be departing.

Perez to return as Real president


Florentino Perez
Florentino Perez will be sworn in as Real Madrid president on Monday after no other candidate stood against him.

Several challengers pulled out or were not able to lodge a bank guarantee of 57.4m euros (£51m) required by the club to take over from Vicente Boluda.

Perez, 62, previously held the position between 2000 and 2006.

In that time they won the Primera Liga twice and the Champions League and earned the nickname Galacticos because of the wealth of star players.

Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo, Luis Figo and David Beckham were among the biggest names at the club during Perez's reign.

And the Spanish construction magnate has already indicated he wants to assemble another team of lavishly gifted players.

Perez officially presented his candidacy on Thursday under the slogan "the dream is back" and said the team he would help build would be world beaters.

"We will build a spectacular team with top-notch players. We have set up a strong and stable sporting project, which will be able to call upon footballers who will turn each Real Madrid match into a fascinating rendezvous," he said.

Perez has not mentioned any names regarding top signings but the Spanish media has reported that Chilean Manuel Pellegrini, currently at Villarreal, is set to become coach in place of Juande Ramos and that AC Milan's Brazilian playmaker Kaka is the number one player target.

Real have also been strongly linked to Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo, Liverpool's Spanish midfielder Xabi Alonso and Bayern Munich's French winger Franck Ribery.

Real's arch rivals Barcelona won the Champions League, the Spanish title and the Spanish Cup this season under debutant coach Josep Guardiola.

But in an interview published on Sunday in daily newspaper El Pais, Perez revealed Barcelona's success this season "motivates me even more" and he added that Real "needs a revolution".

Real ended the season on Sunday with a 2-1 defeat by Osasuna.

Ancelotti leaves job at AC Milan


Carlo Ancelotti took a step closer to becoming Chelsea's new manager after he announced his contract at AC Milan has been terminated by mutual consent.

But the Italian, who guided Milan to third in Serie A, said a move to Stamford Bridge had yet to be agreed.

He said: "I have agreed to leave Milan. The decision was by mutual consent. But a move to London is not certain yet."

Milan announced technical director Leonardo will replace Ancelotti as manager for next season.

Ancelotti signed off his eight-year reign at the San Siro with a 2-0 away victory over Fiorentina, a result which secures automatic qualification for next season's Champions League group stages.

Although he refused to confirm his future with Chelsea, the 49-year-old did say he will not be joining another club in Italy.

"In agreement with the club, we have decided to bring forward the expiry of my contract," he said. "This beautiful adventure at Milan is over.

"I can't say anything else official. I have not made any agreement with any other club. I am certainly not staying in Italy."

Italian journalist Massimo Marinella told BBC Radio 5 Live he was confident Ancelotti would be confirmed as the new Chelsea boss in the next few days.

He said: "Chelsea did not want him (Ancelotti) to say anything because they did not want to spoil the press conference at Stamford Bridge.

"They want to make the announcement official in London." Milan's England midfielder David Beckham paid tribute to the departing coach.

"With Carlo Ancelotti leaving AC Milan, it is the end of an era, the end of some extraordinary years," Beckham said on the club's website. "But wherever he goes, they will be a fortunate club to have him as their coach."

Brazil star Kaka also thanked Ancelotti for the impact he has had on his own career.

The 2007 World Footballer of the Year said: "He is a person I have a very strong bond with thanks to these six years that I have spent here with him as my coach at Milan.

"I am grateful for what he has done for me and for what he has taught me.

"He gave me the opportunity to be known as a footballer across the world and I have won a lot with him. I wish him all the best in everything."

Although not explicitly naming him, Ancelotti hinted he would love to sign Kaka for whichever club he ends up at next.

"There is one player I would like to take, but I cannot take him with me," he said.

Chelsea have been searching for a replacement for Guus Hiddink, who is returning to his full-time role with Russia.

The Dutchman, who guided the west London club to victory in the FA Cup final on Saturday, was drafted in when Luis Felipe Scolari was sacked in February, but resisted the clamour to remain in charge next season.

"Guus Hiddink has done a fantastic job as temporary first team coach," read a Chelsea statement.

"Winning the FA Cup was a fitting tribute to his management and coaching skills, and a perfect send-off for him.

"He will always be welcome back at Chelsea as a friend, and in any other football capacity."

Ancelotti, who had been the longest-serving manager in Italy's top flight, having joined the Rossoneri from Juventus in 2001, has previously confirmed he has been learning English.

He previously refused to rule out the possibility of taking the reins at Stamford Bridge, despite reaffirming his commitment to the Serie A giants.

Ancelotti, speaking before the 3-2 defeat by Roma on 24 May, had said: "It's 100% certain I will still be at Milan next year."But he added: "I am open to anything. It's obvious I would say yes if you ask me if I would love to coach Chelsea."

And in his autobiography, 'Preferisco La Coppa' (I Prefer The Cup), which was released in Italy on Tuesday, Ancelotti describes two meetings he claims to have held with Blues owner Roman Abramovich last year in Geneva and Paris.

Ancelotti told the Russian about two players he thought would help turn Chelsea into the attractive, winning side Abramovich craves.

"President, your team is very physical, you have to put more quality in the middle of the pitch," Ancelotti claims to have told Abramovich.

"I gave him two names, (Bayern Munich winger) Franck Ribery and (Liverpool midfielder) Xabi Alonso."

Chelsea have refused to comment on the claims in Ancelotti's book.

Leonardo will be officially named as Milan's new coach on Monday.

The 39-year-old former Brazil international was appointed as the club's technical director in 2008.

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