Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Ronaldo taunted on debut for Real


Cristiano Ronaldo
Real Madrid's record £80m signing Cristiano Ronaldo was constantly booed by some fans on his debut as the Spanish side beat Shamrock Rovers 1-0.

The winger left Manchester United to join Real this summer but had a bow to forget as he came off at half-time.

Ronaldo also suffered taunts of "who are ya?" when he sent a free-kick wide before Karim Benzema's late winner.

Meanwhile, Ronaldo's former boss at Old Trafford Alex Ferguson has not ruled out the player returning to the club.

The 24-year-old Portuguese international spent six seasons at United before switching to the Bernabeu.

"He may come back, you never know," said Ferguson. "Sometimes it happens that way."He loved United. If you look back at the six years he had with us, he never missed training.

"That's one of the things he has above all other players - he was never injured, he always played.

"And his best is yet to come. He is only 24."

Ronaldo has prospered under Ferguson's guardianship at United and was named Fifa World Player of the Year in 2008.

Brazilian forward Kaka, who has also been signed for £56m by Real Madrid, won that award in 2007, with Barcelona star Lionel Messi expected to win the 2009 gong.

There may be plenty of debate of which of the trio is the best player in the world but Ferguson has little doubt.

"Cristiano is a massive loss," conceded Ferguson, of a player who has scored 118 goals for United in 292 appearances.

"I have nothing but praise for the boy. He is easily the best player in the world.

"He is better than Kaka and better than Messi. He is streets ahead of them all.

"His contribution as a goal threat is unbelievable. His stats are incredible.

"Strikes at goal, attempts on goal, raids into the penalty box, headers. It is all there. Absolutely astounding."

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Uefa tightens anti-racism rules


Uefa has given referees the power to abandon matches in the event of racist chanting inside a stadium.

European football's governing body has implemented a three-step procedure that comes into force with immediate effect.

The referee should first demand over the public address system that fans' racist behaviour should stop.

The next step is to suspend the match for up to 10 minutes with the teams sent to the dressing room. If that does not work, the game should be abandoned.

Uefa president Michel Platini said there would be no compromise in his organisation's stance against racism in football.

"Our policy on racism is one of zero tolerance," said Platini.

"It was necessary to give the pitch people the means to do something, and we have determined the parameters and lines of conduct, whereby in important cases of racist behaviour in a stadium, a referee must stop the match.

"There are people of authority such as the referee and match delegate who can consult before deciding to temporarily suspend a match for five or 10 minutes, in agreement with officials responsible for security - and from then, if the atmosphere remains negative, the match must be stopped." Platini first revealed plans to abandon matches in April of this year after Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli was racially abused by Juventus fans.

The Italian authorities ordered Juve to play their next home league game behind closed doors.

England players Ashley Cole and Shaun Wright-Phillips were subjected to racial abuse when they played against Spain at Real Madrid's Bernabeu Stadium in 2004.

The decision was taken at a meeting of Uefa's executive committee in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Ashley Cole: The latest Galactico?


Spanish giants Real Madrid are buying everyone it seems, with a bid for Chelsea's Ashley Cole now said to be on the cards.

The England left-back has recently rejected a Chelsea extension due to a disagreement over his wages, after the Blues' latest offer fell £30,000-a-week short of the club's top earners.

Remaining committed at Stamford Bridge, would require the right contract for Cole.

A source revealed: "Ashley loves Chelsea and is genuinely excited about working with new boss Carlo Ancelotti.

"He wants to give the best years of his career to the club but the deal has to be right for such an important contract.

"He needs to feel as valued as any of the club's other top players."

With money being no object for Real Madrid, Cole could be playing at the Bernabeu, just like everyone else.

Marseille sign Cissé and Diawara


New Marseille recruit Souleymane Diawara
Olympique de Marseille have made two signings from fellow UEFA Champions League group-stage participants with midfielder Edouard Cissé arriving from Beşiktaş JK and FC Girondins de Bordeaux defender Souleymane Diawara also heading to the Stade Vélodrome.

Cissé return
The 31-year-old Cissé returns to his native country joining on a free transfer from the Turkish champions and penning a two-year deal. The former Stade Rennais FC, AS Monaco FC and West Ham United FC player spent two years with Beşiktaş playing 54 league games following his transfer from Marseille's arch-rivals Paris Saint-Germain FC.

Consistent performer
No details of Senegal centre-back Diawara's transfer have been released. The 30-year-old was one of the key men in Bordeaux's title-winning campaign last term, only missing two league games all season. Diawara spent two years with Laurent Blanc's outfit, making 64 top-flight appearances, after arriving from Charlton Athletic FC.

Madrid ready to take the Maicon?


Inter Milan right-back.
Maicon's agent expects Real Madrid to launch a transfer "offensive" for the Inter Milan right-back.

The 27-year-old was a key figure as Jose Mourinho's Inter clinched a fourth straight Serie A title last term and shone at the Confederations Cup with Brazil this month, but could be on his way out of the San Siro after demanding a pay increase.

Manchester City are the only club to have made an offer for Maicon, who has also been linked with Chelsea, but his agent believes the Spanish giants - who have spent over 200 million euros already this summer - could move soon.

"I think that Maicon will be the cherry on the Real Madrid cake," said Antonio Caliendo. "At the moment there's nothing but I believe the situation is destined to change.

"After having bought (Karim) Benzema, now Real are focusing on (Franck) Ribery and Xabi Alonso, but then they will turn to Maicon.

"I have already said it and I repeat it - I'm expecting an offensive from them to try to buy him because he is the best in the world in his position.

"There's margin to manoeuvre with Inter.

"If the amount that will come to Inter will be the right one, everything could be finalised very soon."

Maicon is under contract with the Nerazzurri until June 2013.

Chelsea snare young striker Sturridge


Manchester City FC forward Daniel Sturridge.<br />
Chelsea FC have boosted their striking options ahead of the new season by signing Manchester City FC forward Daniel Sturridge.

Four-year deal
Sturridge has penned a four-year contract with the London club after turning down a new deal at City although a transfer fee for the 19-year-old is still to be agreed. He made his debut for City in the 2006/07 campaign but truly came to the fore last season making 16 of his 21 top-flight appearances and scoring four goals. Sturridge also played eight games in City's run to the UEFA Cup quarter-finals. Chelsea have qualified for the UEFA Champions League group stage this season.

City's mind-blowing offer for Terry


Chelsea defender John Terry
Manchester City have made Chelsea defender John Terry a staggering £300,000-a-week offer to join the Eastlands outfit.

If accepted, the earnings would make him the highest-paid player in football, even brushing aside Cristiano Ronaldo's £255,000-a-week at Real Madrid.

The figure which amounts to an astronomical £15.6million-a-year is testament to Terry's perceived integral role in City boss Mark Hughes' grand scheme.

City backed with their new found wealth courtesy of new owner Sheikh Mansour, are seemingly unrelenting in their desire to break into the Premier League's top four.

Chelsea, however, could be a major stumbling block for City's revamp plans.

It was previously reported that a £30million bid for Terry was firmly rejected by Chelsea.

Reports in The Sun newspaper now suggest that another offer is in the pipelines - a bid in the region of £40m.

According to sources, Terry was impressed by Hughes' confidence in him.

John Terry has made 272 appearances and scored 17 goals for Chelsea since he arrived at Stamford Bridge in 1998.

Real Madrid agree on Benzema deal


striker Karim Benzema
Real Madrid have reached an agreement to sign striker Karim Benzema from French side Lyon, subject to the 21-year-old passing a medical.

The Spanish club will pay an initial £30m for the France international, a figure that could rise to £35m if performance-related clauses are met.

"Benzema will have his medical in the next few days," said a Real statement.

Benzema, who will sign a six-year-deal at the Bernabeu, had been linked with a move to Manchester United.

Real have already signed forwards Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka and defender Raul Albiol for a combined £148m this summer.

Former France and Real Madrid great Zinedine Zidane, who is now a senior advisor at the Spanish club, is believed to have recommended Benzema to club president Florentino Perez after negotiations to sign David Villa from Valencia broke down. "A few days ago Karim Benzema informed the club president Jean Michel Aulas of his desire to move to the Madrid club, which had always been his favourite club after Lyon, earlier than he had foreseen," said a statement on the French club's website.

"The player wanted to seize the opportunity which Real Madrid offered him to be one of the major elements in their new ambitious project based around the greatest players of the world.

"Lyon accepted Karim Benzema's decision and negotiated the conditions of a transfer which satisfies all the different parties.

"The club wishes Karim the greatest success with Real Madrid."

Benzema joined Lyon's youth academy at the age of nine and progressed through club's ranks before making his first-team debut aged 17.

He scored 31 goals in 51 games during the 2007-08 season to finish top scorer in Ligue 1.

Benzema scored 23 goals in all competitions last season but could not prevent Lyon ending the season without league title for the first time in eight years.

Owen seals shock Utd move


Michael Owen
Manchester United have confirmed the shock capture of striker Michael Owen.

The England forward was available on a free transfer after his contract at Newcastle United expired at the end of June.

A number of sides were interested in signing the former Liverpool and Real Madrid attacker, but United emerged as favourites to secure his signature.

The 29-year-old underwent a medical in Manchester on Friday and has now sealed his move to the Premier League champions, inking a two-year deal.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson told the club's official website: "Michael is a world class forward with a proven goalscoring record at the highest level and that has never been in question.
Fantastic opportunity

"Coming to Manchester United with the expectations that we have is something that Michael will relish."

Owen said: "I had just begun to talk to other clubs when out of the blue Sir Alex phoned me on Wednesday afternoon, invited me to have breakfast with him the next morning during which he told me that he wanted to sign me. I agreed without a moment's thought.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I intend to seize it with both hands.

"I am now looking forward to being a Manchester United player and I am fortunate that I already know so many of the players here. I missed pre-season last year and am pleased that I will be starting at Carrington from day one.

"I want to thank Sir Alex for the faith he has shown in me and I give him my assurance that I will repay him with my goals and performances"

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