Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mido will be our new signing, says Southgate

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate heaped praise on Mido's fitness progress ahead of the new season.

Mido lost alot of extra weight after strict training regime in Egypt

The Boro boss said he is optimistic with the team's pre-season campaign as he highlighted the development of returning duo Mido and Robert Huth.

“Huth and Mido will be like two new signings. Rob, we saw for a spell last season, is an outstanding player and Mido as well," he said.

"That’s why I’m quite comfortable about the way that we are going to progress.

"We feel with the group of players that we’ve got that we can achieve more than we achieved last year.

"Mido has shown a real desire to come back in a condition that gives him a chance going forward into pre-season. We are pleased with that attitude and he has given himself a good opportunity.”

Mido was subjected to a strict fitness program recently, in an attempt to regain his shape following last season's injury problems.

The former Tottenham forward lost 10 kilos in pre-season, and should be ready for Boro's Premiership opener with Spurs.

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Shawky, on the other hand, looked in a good shape as well. The Egyptian might face more competition in midfield especially after the sgning of Paris St Germain's Digard but recent reports linked Boateng with a move to Hull City and this should give Shawky more chances to start next season even with the presence of the new signing Didier Digard.

Shawky back from injury and ready for new season

"George has expressed a desire to move on, he's having talks with a couple of other clubs and that's the decision he's got to make now." said Southgate.

All4All team will keep you updated with all the latest preseason preparations for players abroad...

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Video:Liverpool legends lose to Denmark legends

I was under the impression that the Liverpool Legends were the Beatles.However things have changed apparently.It's a football team and they have lost their first match in a 3 game Scandinavian tour.

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Sign here if you want to boot Blatter out

Had enough of Blatter ? Sign the online petition here..
Meanwhile back at his lair the Blatter has revealed details on his Plan B regarding where to hold the 2010 World Cup should his South African venture blow up in his face.Speaking with considerable difficulty due to having both feet in his mouth he said to Sky News....
"I have spoken to three possible, not only possible, but three associations and countries that would be able to stage the World Cup in one year's time," . "They need one year (to prepare)."

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Lampard allowed to leave- report

Frank Lampard could be on his way from Chelsea to Inter Milan after Luiz Felipe Scolari approved his exit, the Sun reported on Saturday.

Lampard allowed to leave- report

The report claimed that Chelsea's new boss promised 'to help' Lampard move if the England midfielder wishes so.

Lampard has been linked with the Nerazzurri since Jose Mourinho took over at San Siro, but Chelsea were reluctant to allow the move.

Meanwhile, Inter president Massimo Moratti reaffirmed the club's interest in the 30-year-old, but conceded that no more bids will be issued for his services.

"We have made our offer to Chelsea and now it depends on the player," said Moratti.

"He is a player we like, but we cannot do any more than that."

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Beckham Tips Altidore To Shine

David Beckham has tipped American teenager Jozy Altidore to make a positive impression in La Liga after his move from Red Bull New York to Villarreal.



Altidore became the most expensive American footballer in history when he joined Villarreal for a fee in the region of £10 million in June, and Beckham believes that the striker has the credentials to prove himself in Spain’s top-flight.

The ex-Real Madrid midfielder told Marca: “He is 18-years-old and he is on a learning path, but he could make a name for himself in La Liga. He is a good player, very young, strong, aggressive.”

The teenager has risen to prominence with a string of quality displays for his club, and became a senior international for the USA last November.

Altidore arrives without the weight of expectation that was heaped on the young shoulders of Landon Donovan and Benfica’s Freddy Adu, both of whom have struggled to raise their profile in Europe.

Donovan’s failure to make the grade at Bayer Leverkusen is something that baffles Beckham, who insists that his Galaxy team-mate is the finest footballing talent in the States.

He continued: “I don’t know why (American players struggle in Europe), because Landon Donovan is a very good player.

“I train with him every day and in the United States I have not seen a player of his talent. He played in Germany … but I think that here he is better because he is happier. His family is here and all this is very important for a player.”

After struggling to win over pundits with a subdued first MLS campaign, the 33-year-old Beckham has recently begun to thrive in America’s top division.

Of his own time in Los Angeles, Beckham said: “I am very happy,” he said. “I have been here a year and my family is very happy, my children have a lot of friends and they are enjoying school, my wife is happy working and living here … and I am also enjoying my football in Los Angeles a lot. As such I am in a good moment.”

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Ronaldinho Set To Join Milan

According to Gazetta dello Sport, AC Milan are on the verge of securing a deal for Brazilian playmaker Ronaldinho on a two-year contract.



The Barcelona forward has been linked heavily this summer with both Milan and Manchester City, both of whom will be competing in next season’s UEFA Cup.

It seems that the former World Player of the Year has set his sights on a move to San Siro, where Carlo Ancelotti is overhauling his aging squad.

According to Gazetta, Barcelona chief Joan Laporta and Milan counterpart Adriano Galliani have agreed in principle a deal for the player.

A fee, believed to be in the region of 15 million euros, has been decided by the duo, and the details of an annual 6.5 million euro contract are in place.

Galliani has sought to placate irate supporters with a trophy signing this summer, and had stated his intent on signing Ronaldinho or Arsenal’s Emmanuel Adebayor.

After being seemingly priced out of a bargain for the Togo striker, Galliani looks set to snare the Brazilian playmaker for a relatively economical fee.

Ronaldinho will be expected to lead the Milan line with fellow Seleção members Kaka and Alexandre Pato.

Milan have already secured deals for three new players this summer; Gianluca Zambrotta has been added from Barcelona, Mathieu Flamini joined for free from Arsenal, while Marco Boriello has been recalled from a fruitful loan-spell at Genoa.

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Pele Advises Ronaldo To 'Honour His Contract'

Brazilian legend Pele believes that Cristiano Ronaldo should honour his contract at Manchester United, and has rubbished Sepp Blatter’s comparison of modern footballers with slaves.

Pele Advises Ronaldo To 'Honour His Contract'

Ronaldo has refused to confirm or deny rumours of an impending move from Old Trafford to the Bernabeu, and has created the biggest transfer story of the summer window.

FIFA President Sepp Blatter compared Ronaldo’s situation as tantamount to slavery, with Mancehster United refusing permission for the Portuguese to engineer a move away from the club.

His comments were validated by Ronaldo himself, who suggested that he was being held against his will by Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

However, Pele believes that the contract Ronaldo signed with United last year should be honoured, and that any move linking the 23-year-old with Real Madrid should be completed after the deal expires.

The 67-year-old was speaking in Stoke ahead of a charity game in aid of the Gordon Banks Foundation.

He said: "You are a slave if you work without a contract or you don't get paid.

"If you have a contract then in any job you have to finish the contract. I think that when he finishes his contract, then he should be free to go wherever he wants to go."

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Cannavaro To Lippi: Let's Win The World Cup Again

Inspirational defender and Italy captain Fabio Cannavaro has his thoughts set on South Africa 2010 and on lifting the World Cup for a second time

Let's Win The World Cup Again

Cannavaro is recovering well from the ankle injury that excluded him from Euro 2008 on the first day of training in Switzerland.

Putting past ghosts to rest, the skipper has let new Italy coach Marcello Lippi know that he is ready to captain another World Cup winning squad.

“If Lippi wants me, I’ll be there to triumph again at the World Cup in South Africa,” said the Real Madrid center back to the Gazzetta.

Asked if he had been in contact with Lippi, Cannavaro responded, “I’ve spoken to both Lippi and Donadoni.

"Lippi wanted to know how long my recovery would take, while I thanked Donadoni for two very beautiful years."

Cannavaro will want to recover in time for Italy’s friendly against Austria on August 20, Lippi’s first match in charge of the Azzurri since the World Cup final.

If determination is anything to go by, don’t bet against the captain being on the team sheet by then.

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Lampard is the best, says Mourinho

Inter Milan boss Jose Mourinho has praised Frank Lampard to the skies, describing the Chelsea midfielder as 'the best ever professional' he has worked with.

Jose hails Lampard

Mourinho managed Chelsea for four seasons since 2004, an era where Lampard emerged as one of the top class midfielders in the world under the Portuguese tactician.

"Frank Lampard is a different kind of person, not so extroverted. He is the best professional I have ever worked with," Mourinho said in an interview on Feelfootball.com.

"He's the player that trains better, has more concentration, more commitment and is always focused on himself."

Lampard was strongly linked with Inter after Mourinho took charge, but Chelsea refused to sell their vice-captain.

However, Mourinho said earlier that he is adamant that the 30-year-old will join Inter in 2009.


Incredibly Professional

Incredibly Professional

Mourinho has also sung praises of his former employee back in May.

"He is never happy about his performance, always wants to improve, always wants to learn," he said earlier.

"If he makes a mistake in a game, the next day in training he wants to stay one more hour to practice exactly that situation.

"I remember he missed a goal once with a difficult left-foot volley and the next day in training he was there one hour after the training session practicing that volley with the left foot.

"He is incredibly professional. God gave players the talent... but some of them waste this talent but some of them with this kind of mentality make themselves better and these are the kind of the players that can last forever."

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Van der Vaart denies Real link

Hamburg captain Rafael Van der Vaart stressed 'there is nothing' between him and Real Madrid, following reports linking him with the Spanish champions.

Van der Vaart to stay with HSV

Marca reported on Thursday that Real are weighing a €20M bid for the Holland playmaker, who declared that he is staying in the Bundesliga.

"I have checked everything and there is nothing to it," Van der Vaart told the German press.

"I have the feeling that I'll be playing for Hamburg for another year.

"Yesterday it was Atletico, today it's Real. It'll probably keep going on like this."

Van der Vaart asked HSV to sell him to Valencia last season, but the German club's board blocked the transfer.

However, former Ajax man stated recently that he wants to stay with Hamburg, following the appointment of Martin Jol this summer.

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Queiroz leaves United for Portugal

Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz has been announced new Portugal manager on Saturday.

Queiroz to Portugal

Manchester United assistant coach Carlos Queiroz has been announced new Portugal manager on Saturday.

The Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) said that the former U-20 team coach has signed a four-year contract, succeeding Luiz Felipe Scolari, who joined Chelsea.

"I am very proud and honored to be able to go back and serve my country," Queiroz said in a statement from the FPF.

"This is a very special position that any professional would want."

Queiroz has an exciting coaching career as he managed in Portugal, USA, Japan, UAE, South Africa and Spain.

The Mozambique-born tactician had an unsuccessful spell at Real Madrid in 2003-2004, before he joined United as an assistant with Sir Alex Ferguson.

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Paixao: Ronaldinho Has Rediscovered His Joy

Paulo Paixao, fitness coach of the Brazilian national team and who is supervising the recovery of Ronaldinho, has added fuel to the fire of suggestions that Barcelona were responsible for the player falling out of love with football.



Paixao has been supervising Ronaldinho's intensive physical training for a week now, and The Gaucho seems to have had made significant progress.

In a statement made yesterday, he spoke about the Barcelona star, who is whipping himself into shape to participate in the Olympics much against his club's wishes.

"He is very happy and motivated," said Paixao. "He has rediscovered his joy, and is once again the Ronaldinho we all knew."

"He has been very cooperative in the work we are doing to improve his physical form, and take him back to his best."

"Even though he has been idle for a long time, he may already be in top shape by the 22nd of July."

Ronaldinho is determined to represent Brazil in the Olympics, despite opposition from Barcelona, and just as much from Dunga - who feels overruled after leaving him out of the national team.

The Brazilian will thus miss the club's Champions League qualifiers, in which Barca will also be without Lionel Messi.

At the same time, there is a battle taking place between Manchester City and Milan for his signature. City seem to have almost met Barcelona's asking price, but the player has his eyes set on Milan - who are refusing to pay up and hoping that the Catalans succumb.

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Rossi Not Jumping Ship

Villarreal hot-shot Giuseppe Rossi has soothed any fears the club’s fans might have by declaring his desire to remain at El Madrigal.

Giuseppe Rossi - Villarreal

Despite growing calls in Italy for him to return to Serie A, Giuseppe Rossi has made it clear that he will not abandon the Yellow Submarine.

“The type of football in Spain suits perfectly to my playing style,” he told Turin-based daily, La Stampa, before adding, “I feel fantastic at Villarreal and at the moment, I do not miss Italy.”

The feeling, it appears, is mutual. The player’s agent revealed that the Castellón-based outfit themselves are very keen to hang on to the 21-year-old and the club have confirmed that “they will do whatever it takes to make sure he remains at Villarreal”.

Last season in La Liga, Rossi made 28 appearances and netted 11 goals for the Yellow Submarine. The New Jersey-born foward is currently preparing for the Beijing Olympics with Pierluigi Casiraghi’s Italy.

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We Can Make Champions League Final - Chiellini

Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini talked about the national team and his ambition to lift a trophy in the coming season.



It's almost time for every team to get back on the training ground for the summer. Next Thursday it's Juventus' turn, and defender Giorgio Chiellini thinks this year will be the right one to lift a trophy again.

"This year I want us to lift a trophy," he said.

Today he will be honored by politician Pier Ferdinando Casini as Italy's best player at Euro 2008. "I did not expect to do so well, but it should be a starting point for me," was his reaction to that.

On the national team and Marcello Lippi's return, he said: "Nothing changes for me, I only have to think about working hard and being ready. With Donadoni I've also done well."

Coming back on Juventus: "I can't wait to get started. I'm enjoying the last days of rest, but I talk to my team mates and the coach every day and I'm working on my own to restart well."

On the Champions League, Chiellini did not hide his ambition: "I can't wait to get back into Europe. With Capello I had played 6 games. This year I want to go all the way. In these competitions not always the best team wins: we will need to do great things, but we have what it takes to get to the final.

"We start from an excellent basis and we also have another new player coming in. Of course, it's not easy to rebuild the team of champions of the past, but we are on the right road."

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Come Here And We'll Win Everything, Zanetti Tells Lampard

Inter captain Javier Zanetti tackled an array of current topics during an interview.

Zanetti

Inter captain Javier Zanetti gave an interview in which he talked about coach Jose Mourinho, Frank Lampard, Amantino Mancini, and the prospects for next season.

Asked if he thought Jose Mourinho is the right coach to take Inter all the way in the Champions League, he said: "I think so. I'm glad the president chose him and I was very happy he called me right after signing the contract. He has great experience, the results say it all."

On Frank Lampard: "Lampard is a great player who would be really useful to us. I know that president Moratti, along with Branca and Oriali, is trying to get him here at all costs, but from I've read it won't be easy.

"What message I send to him? If he comes here, we will welcome him the way we have always done with our champions and together we will try to win everything."

On the arrival of Amantino Mancini from Roma: "I'm happy about that. He's an excellent player, as he showed with Roma: he goes past players with great ease and often creates the numerical superiority which is very important for the way we play."

On the competition next season in Serie A: "I'm sure it will be a very balanced season. Roma will try to continue doing well. Juventus are preparing an excellent squad. Fiorentina are not to be underestimated, and of course there is Milan."

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Arshavin 'Desperate' For Gunners Move

Recent speculation now links Andrei Arshavin with Arsenal, with his agent insisting the Zenit star is "desperate" to join Arsene Wenger's side...



Andrei Arshavin's agent continues to angle his client towards Europe's big guns - namely Arsenal - with the Emirates apparently now his preferred destination.

The Russian Euro 2008 star looked set for Barcelona after admitting that he has long desired a move to the Camp Nou, but the Catalan giants have underestimated Zenit St Petersburg's resolve.

Indeed, Barca's bid reportedly failed to interest the Uefa Cup winners' board and agent Dennis Lachter is working overtime to make sure his client ends up at a top club come the end of the summer.

He has claimed that an English club have offered £19m for the creative forward - much closer to Zenit's £24m valuation of the 27-year-old.

Now, talking about Arshavin's potential destination, Lachter told the Daily Mirror: "Andrei is desperate to join Arsenal.

"His style of play would suit them perfectly."

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Beckham: I Nearly Joined Milan

England symbol David Beckham has revealed that he came very close to joining AC Milan last year, prior to his move to LA Galaxy.

David Beckham

Beckham left Real Madrid in the summer of 2007 to move to the United States, but he has explained how, prior to agreeing to join LA Galaxy, he came mightily close to signing for Milan.

“I was very close to signing for Milan,” Beckham told the Gazzetta dello Sport.

“I thought very hard about the opportunity, but in the end I decided to come to the United States.

“Milan are a top-level club, which is what I was looking for after Real Madrid and Manchester United.

“The Diavolo are the side that I like best in Serie A and they have played excellent football for years. Furthermore, I like the country and I often go there on holiday.”

The 33-year-old Beckham, who has won 102 caps for England, played for Manchester United from 1993 to 2003, and Real Madrid from 2003 to 2007.

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Nasri joy over Gunners deal

SAMIR NASRI has revealed his delight at finally completing his switch to Arsenal.
The midfielder has joined the Gunners in a £12million move from Marseille.
And France international Nasri, 21, is relishing the chase for silverware next season.



Samir Nasri feels he has all the qualities to fit right in with Arsenal's culture of "amazing football".

The Gunners finally completed what has been a protracted pursuit of the attack-minded midfielder from Marseille on what they describe as a 'long-term contract' for an undisclosed fee.

The move could now pave the way for unsettled Belarus winger Alexander Hleb to join Barcelona.

Nasri, 21-year-old, certainly has great potential having featured for France at Euro 2008 and helped Marseille claim third place in Ligue 1 last season to qualify for the Champions League.

And the player is determined to make a big impression at Emirates Stadium.

"I like offensive, technical and quick football - exactly in the style of Arsenal," he declared.

"I hope I will integrate myself quickly in this team and bring everything I can to Arsenal and the fans.

"I can play in the centre or on the wing, behind one or two strikers, on the left or the right."

Nasri told Arsenal TV Online: "Last season I found the Arsenal way of playing football amazing.

"Unfortunately, the team just missed out on winning a trophy, but, in my opinion, Arsenal produced the best football in Europe.

"I was a big fan of the team and of its football philosophy, which makes it so great for me to be joining the club."

Nasri had announced last month, somewhat prematurely, that the deal - understood to be in the region of £12million - had been completed.

However, with all the relevant documents now processed, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger can look forward to shaping his team when they head out to Austria later this month in the build up to the new season, which kicks off with a Champions League qualifier on August 12/13.

Nasri revealed Wenger's history of developing young talent played a major part in his decision to join the Gunners. He said: "Arsene has a great reputation and has proved that he puts a lot of confidence in the young players and he gives them a chance.

"It was very important for me to have such a great manager to work with."

Nasri will join a large French contingent at Emirates, which already included captain William Gallas, Gael Clichy, Abou Diaby and Bacary Sagna.

Former Arsenal captains Thierry Henry and Patrick Vieira also gave the youngster some sound advice.

"They both had amazing times at this club and even talking to them now, they are still very enthusiastic about Arsenal," Nasri said.

"They both told me that it was the best choice for me to come to Arsenal."

Wenger, meanwhile, is in no doubt Nasri will make a fine addition to his squad.

"He is young, quick and technically an outstanding player," said Wenger, who also signed Wales teenager Aaron Ramsey earlier in the summer.

"Samir has shown great potential with his performances for Marseille and the French national team over the past two seasons and he will add great quality to our squad."

As well as resolving Hleb's situation, Wenger will also want the future of leading scorer Emmanuel Adebayor, a £30million target for AC Milan and Barcelona, to be confirmed before the Gunners' start their pre-season schedule in earnest.

There could yet be more departures, though, as Panathinaikos hope to tie up a deal for veteran central midfielder Gilberto Silva.

Wenger is never without a back-up plan, however, and so could move for Portugal Under-21 international Amaury Bischoff, who has been released by German side Werder Bremen.

Should the Arsenal manager need more attacking options, young Mexican striker Carlos Vela has been added to the first-team group for next season after receiving a work permit following his loan spell in Spain.

Wenger is a long-time admirer of Newcastle front man Obafemi Martins and Blackburn's Paraguay striker Roque Santa Cruz, both rated around £13million, while Colombia international Radamel Falcao would welcome a move to Emirates.

The River Plate striker said: "I know there is interest from Arsenal and that excites me.

"If there is an agreement between the clubs I am ready to go. It would mean a huge leap forward in my career."

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Reports: Drogba Agrees To Join Inter

According to confidential sources in Italy, Didier Drogba has agreed to move to San Siro to join Inter Milan.

Didier Drogba , Chelsea - Manchester City

Chelsea striker Drogba has been strongly linked with a transfer away from Stamford Bridge for several months now, and he has been widely tipped to leave as he searches for a new challenge.

For a long time Milan had been the favourites to snap up the Ivory Coast international, however they all but withdrew their interest last month.

It had been looking increasingly likely that the 30-year-old would end up staying with Chelsea, however according to confidential sources in Italy, Drogba will be moving to San Siro after all, only not with Milan, but with city rivals Inter.

The Nerazzurri have recently appointed Jose Mourinho as their new coach, who is well known to have a fantastic relationship with Drogba from their time together at Chelsea.

Sources say that Drogba has already agreed a move with Inter, and that all that is required to complete the deal is for a transfer fee to be sorted. The Ivorian could be included in the same deal that will see Frank Lampard end up at the Stadio Meazza.

In order to make way for Drogba, Inter will sell Hernan Crespo, and possibly Victor Obinna, who is set to arrive from Chievo Verona.

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Ronaldinho protests Olympic ban

Ronaldinho protests Olympic ban


Ronaldinho seen here in his protest outfit- which is either a very long pair of short pants or a very short pair of long pants.He says he's going to go the Olympics whether his club permits it or not.
Exact words ..."I feel very positive and I am not thinking about anything that is not good.I am imagining myself at the Games doing good, playing well and bringing back the gold medal.I am going to give special attention to my training and preparation.I have great confidence that I will go the Olympics in good shape and that is a great motivation to train. I have not played for a long time and I really do miss it.That is why I want to work hard and be ready and I am not thinking about if someone is going to stop me or try and block me from going to Beijing."

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Anniversary Of Italy’s 1982 World Cup Triumph

Today is the 26th anniversary of Italy’s 1982 World Cup success against West Germany.


Marco Tardelli celebrating in the WC-Final 1982 vs Germany


The Azzurri won their third World Cup on July 11, 1982, defeating West Germany 3-1 in the final thanks to goals from Paolo Rossi, Marco Tardelli and Sandro Altobelli.

Enzo Bearzot’s men had a disastrous start to the tournament, only just scraping through the group stages on goal difference after drawing all three of their games against Peru, Poland and rank outsiders Cameroon.

After receiving vicious criticism in the press, the Italy team issued a press silence (silenzio stampa). They were given little hope in their second round group alongside World Champions Argentina and hot favourites Brazil.

The Azzurri defeated Argentina 2-1, but still went into their match against a brilliant Brazil team needing to win to reach the semi finals. Against the odds they managed to do just this, as Paolo Rossi hit a hat-trick in a classic 3-2 win in Barcelona.

Italy were now unstoppable, and they comfortably beat Poland 2-0 in the semis, thanks to a Rossi brace, before disposing of West Germany in the final, exactly 26 years ago to this day.

The long-lasting memories from the final include Dino Zoff lifting the cup at the age of 40, Antonio Cabrini’s historic penalty miss, Marco Tardelli’s screaming celebration (see picture above), and most of all legendary Italy President Sandro Pertini’s finger-wagging salute when Altobelli scored Italy’s third.

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PSV Want Ronaldo Return

According to Spanish newspaper As, PSV Eindhoven want to re-sign crocked Brazilian star Ronaldo.

Ronaldo

Ronaldo’s future is uncertain as he is currently a free agent. Indeed for a while his whole career was believed to be in jeopardy after he severed a tendon in his knee playing for Milan against Livorno in February.

After a successful operation in Paris, it was revealed that he would be out of action for at least nine months, although a more likely return date was said to be in 2009.

Although Ronaldo’s rehabilitation is said to be going well, and well ahead of schedule, Milan have refused to offer him a new deal to the contract that ran out at the end of June.

This means that El Fenomeno is now unattached, although there are still some sections of the press who believe that Milan are prepared to hand him a new deal once he proves his fitness.

Nevertheless, As claims that PSV have contacted Ronaldo to try and convince him to return to Eindhoven.

The 31-year-old played for the Dutch giants from 1994 to 1996, and was a massive hit, scoring 42 goals in just 45 games, before moving to Barcelona.

The transfer will be complicated though, as there are also reports that Ronaldo has an agreement with Brazilian club Flamengo.

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Nike Volume #2: What William Gallas knows

Nike is going through all the W's first.After Wayne Rooney its time for William Gallas to share his wisdom...


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Ancelotti: I Want To Coach Italy

Milan boss Carlo Ancelotti has openly admitted that he wants to coach Italy in the near future, while he also claims that he would like to train an African country because it “would be fun with those boys running”.

Ancelotti

Ancelotti has never hidden his desire to coach the Azzurri one day, and many people believed that he would be in the running to replace Marcello Lippi after the 2006 World Cup.

However Carletto opted to remain in charge of the Rossoneri, and he did the same after Euro 2008 when Lippi returned to succeed Roberto Donadoni.

In an interview with La Stampa, Ancelotti admitted that he would not be against the idea of taking over from Lippi next time around.

"The idea is not to be discarded if Lippi were to leave,” the 49-year-old stated.

“I think my time will come to train a national team because it is an experience that I yearn for.

“As an Italian I hope that this national team is Italy.

“Even an African team? Why not? It would be fun with those boys running,” he concluded jokingly.

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Juve To Sign Both Poulsen & Alonso?

According to Tuttosport, Juventus may be set to sign both Christian Poulsen and Xabi Alonso.

Juve To Sign Both Poulsen & Alonso?

The Bianconeri are well known to be in the market for a centre midfielder, and one top-class name will certainly arrive before the start of the new season.

Juve have been in negotiations to sign both Poulsen and Alonso recently, but it was originally thought that only one would be arriving in Turin, most likely the former.

However, Tuttosport claims that the Old Lady may actually bring both midfielders to the Stadio Olimpico.

Sporting director Alessio Secco spent the whole of yesterday in Spain, first in Seville to continue his negotiations for Poulsen, and then in the Basque Country, which is where Alonso is from.

Secco is said to have made an agreement with both players, and all that is required to complete the deal is for a transfer fee to be agreed.

This should not prove too troublesome with Sevilla, who are demanding €10m, while Juve want to pay €8m. However trying to arrange a fee with Liverpool for Alonso is proving very troublesome, with both club’s estimations still far apart.

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Donovan, Beckham Highlight MLS All-Star First XI

The MLS-leading New England Revolution led all teams with three players selected to the roster.

 MLS: Landon Donovan, David Beckham, Los Angeles Galaxy v. San Jose Earthquakes, April 2008

Landon Donovan, David Beckham and Cuauhtémoc Blanco headline the MLS All-Star First XI that was announced on Thursday in Toronto for the All-Star Game on July 24 at BMO Field against West Ham United.

The MLS-leading New England Revolution led the way with three players getting the nod, with centerback Michael Parkhurst, midfielder Shalrie Joseph and goalkeeper Matt Reis each having outstanding seasons thus far. The L.A. Galaxy and Columbus Crew each had two players make the team, while the Chicago Fire, Chivas USA, FC Dallas and Kansas City Wizards each had one player named.

Kansas City Wizards defender Jimmy Conrad and Columbus Crew defender Frankie Hejduk will join Parkhurst in a back three in front of Reis. Coincidentally enough, Conrad, Hejduk and Reis are all UCLA alums.

In addition to Beckham, Blanco and Joseph, the midfield will also have Chivas USA’s Sacha Kljestan and Columbus Crew’s Robbie Rogers.

Donovan, who leads MLS with 11 goals, will be joined up top by FC Dallas striker Kenny Cooper, whose eight goals rank fourth in MLS

Revolution head coach Steve Nicol and his staff will not only coach the side against West Ham, but they will also be responsible for selecting five additional players to join the roster. Commissioner Don Garber will once again add his own two selections to the team.

2008 MLS All-Star First XI

Goalkeeper: Matt Reis (New England Revolution)

Defenders: Jimmy Conrad (Kansas City Wizards), Frankie Hejduk (Columbus Crew), Michael Parkhurst (New England Revolution)

Midfielders: David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy), Cuauhtemoc Blanco (Chicago Fire), Shalrie Joseph (New England Revolution), Sacha Kljestan (Chivas USA), Robbie Rogers (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Kenny Cooper (FC Dallas), Landon Donovan (Los Angeles Galaxy)



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Diego’s Father Adds To Olympic Argument

The father of Werder Bremen midfielder Diego has added fuel to the fire with regards his son’s participation in this summer’s Olympic Games by claiming that Werder had previously agreed to his taking part.

Diego

Djair Cunha is looking for clarification from the Bundesliga side after they earlier this week said they would not be allowing him to be called up to Brazilian squad by Carlos Dunga.

“When we agreed the deal with Werder back in 2006, one of the first things I brought up was the Olympics, because I knew that Diego would have a great chance of taking part.

“Werder said they didn’t have a problem with that” Cunha said in an interview with the Brazilian internet site UOL Esporte.

Diego was called up by Carlos Dunga alongside Ronaldinho from Barcelona. The record World Cup winners are looking to win their first Olympic gold medal at this summer’s Beijing games so are looking to take their strongest possible squad along.

Because the Olympic tournament doesn’t fall within the jurisdiction of Fifa, clubs do not have to release players over the age of 23.

Diego, his father and Klaus Allofs are due to meet next week to discuss the issue.

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Thursday, July 10, 2008

BECKHAM KEEPS LOOKING FORWARD

David Beckham has reiterated his determination to continue his international career ahead of the start of England's World Cup Qualifying campaign.

Beckham

Fabio Capello's side face Czech Republic in a friendly at Wembley on August 20 before they kick-off their campaign with an away match against Andorra on September 6.

Beckham has featured in friendly matches against France, where he won his 100th cap, and the games against USA and Trinidad and Tobago.

And the 33-year-old former captain is optimistic he can remain part of Capello's plans to reach the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

"Going into these [World Cup] qualifiers, it's important that we perform and we get through, and of course I want to be part of that," Beckham said in an interview with talkSPORT.

"I'm keeping myself fit and playing well in order to be part of it - I definitely want to part of it, but we'll see.

"I definitely want to carry on playing for England. But everyone knows how things can turn around and change in football. I want to be part of those plans in South Africa."

Asked if he was still committed to playing for England, Beckham said: "That's never going to change. No matter where I am or who I'm playing for, I always want to be involved in playing for my country.

"I've always said that, even when I wasn't included in games for the Euro 2008 qualifiers. People expected me to come out and retire and to say that I didn't want to play for England again.

"But I've always said that's not going to happen. As long as I'm playing I want to be involved in playing for my country.

"Everybody realises how much I love playing for my country and how passionate I am about that.

"As long as I keep myself fit and healthy and perform on the pitch, then hopefully I'll give myself a chance to be involved."

The LA Galaxy midfielder also revealed that he found Euro 2008 painful to watch after England's failure to qualify under former boss Steve McClaren.

"Going into the European Championships I felt physically sick whenever I heard anything about them and also through the games," Beckham added.

"I saw some of the Spanish games and I did want Spain to win because of having lived there. It's a very passionate country and they deserved some success at that level.

"But we definitely don't want that [England not qualifying] to happen again. It was devastating for the fans and devastating for the country.

"To not have the England fans at the European Championships is something that shouldn't happen because everyone knows we have the best fans in the world.

"They travel the world because they support their country like no other fans do."

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Mancini joins Inter Milan

Amantino Mancini became Jose Mourinho's first signing as the player joined Inter Milan worth $20 million for Roma.




“Both sides are satisfied,” Inter director Gabriele Oriali told Sky Sport Italia on Thursday.

“We hope that Mancini can do as well as Cristian Chivu has for us and become an important player,” added Oriali.

The transfer fee hasn't been announced but the report suggested that Roma will get $20m and the Brazilian player is set to sign a four-year deal that will earn him $4.5m per season.

The arrival of Mancini means Inter will drop the chase for Porto's winger Ricardo Quaresma.

Mourinho has already identified three summer targets; Mancini, Chelsea's Frank Lampard and a striker but he refused to reveal his name.

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Chelsea not giving up on Robinho

Despite recent claims from Real Madrid bosses that Robinho is not for sale, Chelsea held talks with his agent Vagner Ribeiro.

Robinho

Marca revealed on Wednesday that Ribeiro had a second meeting with Chelsea’s sporting director Frank Arnesen to discuss a new bid for Robinho.

The report suggested that the Blues are preparing a 36M-euro bid to sign the 24-year old winger.

New coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has recommended the signing of his Brazilian compatriot as he thinks he would be a great addition to the squad.

Real Madrid have already announced that they won’t sell Robinho unless they could bring Cristiano Ronaldo to the Bernabeu.

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Real close on Van der Vaart- report

Real Madrid have tabled €20M for the services of Hamburg playmaker Rafael Van der Vaart, according to Spanish daily Marca.

Van der Vaart to Real?


The report stated that the Primera Liga champions have a 'total agreement' with the Holland forward, who has usually welcomed a move to Spain.

Van der Vaart, who was desperate to join Valencia last season, backed down on his want-out plans as he recently declared his willingness to stay after the appointment of compatriot Martin Jol.

However, an offer from the Spanish titans would be too good to turn down for the former Ajax ace.

The Hamburg skipper, along with Croatia striker Ivica Olic formed an impressive partnership last season as HSV finished fourth in the Bundesliga.

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Vid : Drunk referee helped off the field in Belarus

Transfer season is kind of boring with not much in the way of action.One can hardly blame a ref in Belarus if he tried to enliven the monotony by taking a swig or two from a hipflask hidden between his red and yellow cards.The players only realised something was amiss towards the end of the game when the ref started doing all his refereeing from the centre circle.He swayed with every passing breeze and blew the whistle every now and then to encourage the players to keep playing - pointing in all directions while he did so.He had to be helped off the field eventually.A more accurate rendition of the facts can be found here...

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Trezegol hangs up the boots

France striker David Trezeguet has announced his international retirement on Wednesday after knowing that Raymond Domenech will remain in charge of Les Bleus until 2010.

Trezegol

“The bad Euro situation and the confirmation of coach have forced me to make this irreversible decision,” the Juventus striker told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Domenech dropped the 30-year old player, who bagged 20 goals for the Old Lady last season, from France squad for the EURO 2008.

"What's happened to me is unacceptable and inexcusable. On the pitch I've shown that I deserve my place. The choices made are incomprehensible, I deserve to go to the Euros," Trezegol added.

The former European Champion hoped to resume his international career following France’s poor exit from the EURO 2008 but he won’t have a chance with Domenech in charge.

“I see football differently to how they see it in France. Euro 2008 was very negative, but it was the faith in Domenech that really annoyed me.

“Decisions seemed to be made politically rather than for footballing reasons and the public opinion in my favour wasn’t respected,” concluded Trezeguet.

David Trézéguét's 20 goals last season for Juventus in Serie A were not good enough for Domenech.He was not included France's losing Euro team .So now "The awful Euros and the (re)confirmation of the (same)coach " have led Trezegol to call it quits at the tender age of 31.
He's also gone on record saying that besides there being too much of Domenech there was also too much of politics and too less of football in France.

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Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Atletico make Van der Vaart bid

Atletico Madrid have offered 15 million euros for Hamburg playmaker Rafael van der Vaart, Spanish sports daily AS today reported. The 25-year-old Dutch international "is the man who Atletico are looking for to close the chapter on their recruitment," the newspaper wrote.

Van der Vaart

Atletico's sports director Jesus Garcia Pitarch confirmed the club's interest in Van der Vaart on Tuesday, during the club's official presentation of French goalkeeper Gregory Coupet. "There could be interest in other players like Van der Vaart but these are players with strong potential who are very expensive," he said, adding there had been some contact with Valencia over Spain forward David Villa.

Van der Vaart said in an interview published in January that he would like to join a Spanish side at a time when Italian giants Juventus appeared well positioned to recruit him. "Spain is my preference because my mother Lolita is Spanish," he told Focus magazine.

Last week, Hamburg's new coach Martin Jol, said he was counting on the player for the 2008/09 campaign, which will get underway in mid-August. Van der Vaart joined Hamburg in 2005 and has a contract until 2010.

Atletico have sought to refresh their squad after finishing fourth in La Liga last season; a position which booked them a place in the qualifying rounds for the UEFA Champions League. In addition to Coupet, they have already signed Brazilian midfielder Paulo Assuncao from Porto, French striker Florent Sinama Pongolle from Recreativo Huelva, and defenders Johnny Heitinga Tomas Ujfalusi from Ajax and Fiorentina respectively.

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Rooney shares his skills

It's called What Wayne Knows and its been around for awhile......about a couple of months.


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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mido impresses at Boro

Egyptian striker Mido proved that he is determined to gain his top form again as he looked very impressive in the first day of Middlesbrough pre-season training.

Mido - New Look .. New Start ..

The Evening Gazette said on Tuesday that "Mido looked in spectacular shape after working on his fitness back home in Egypt, emphasizing the point in a skin-tight red T-shirt."

The 25-year old striker had a poor season plagued by injuries and missed most of Boro's campaign.

Mido had a special training program in Egypt under the supervision of Middlesbrough's fitness coach.

The report revealed that Marvin Emnes and Didier Digard joined up with their team-mates for the first time.

Meanwhile Captain George Boateng missed the session as he is on the verge of moving to Hull City while Tuncay has been given an extra fortnight off following his exertions for European Championship semi-finalists Turkey.

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Zenit tell Barcelona to double offer for Arshavin

Zenit St Petersburg have told Barcelona to double their offer for Andrei Arshavin.

Arshavin

The Russians remain determined to keep their star forward, who was subject to a reported £12million offer from Barcelona last week and is also thought to have attracted interest from Arsenal and Chelsea.

A spokesman for Zenit upped the ante on Tuesday by claiming it will take £24million to prise Arshavin, who starred for his country at Euro 2008, from the UEFA cup holders.

'We have had only one firm offer for Andrei and that came from Barcelona,' said Pavel Pivovarov, head of administrative and legal affairs for Zenit, at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, Switzerland.

'We have not accepted it but if they double it, we would consider selling.'

Arshavin's agent Dennis Lachter says his client would prefer to move to England but insisted it would only be for a club in the Champions League.

'Andrei would like to play in the Premier League but he will not accept an offer from clubs like Newcastle, Middlesbrough and Aston Villa,' he told the Daily Telegraph.

'There are only four British clubs he would play for and they are in the Champions League.

'It's not about money, it's about a team and professional ambition. Zenit is negotiating with several clubs.

'We are now waiting for a phone call from Zenit president Alexander Dyukov to allow us to negotiate his personal terms with one of them. It's most likely he will be heading for England.'

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Scolari: Lampard wants to stay

Luiz Felipe Scolari insists that both Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba have a future with him at Chelsea.

Lampard

The new Chelsea coach was quick to reject suggestions that Lampard would be sold to Inter Milan and that Ivory Coast striker Drogba was bound for their Serie A rivals AC Milan.

Scolari was officially unveiled by Chelsea at Cobham's Hilton Hotel today and immediately warned the rest of Europe that his top players were staying put.

Chelsea had earlier announced that they had rejected an approach for Lampard from Inter Milan and declared that he was not for sale.

Scolari underlined their stance by claiming that Lampard had already told him that he wants to stay for more than the one remaining year of his current contract.

'I met Frank Lampard yesterday and I spoke to him,' said Scolari. 'I like him too much as a player and as a person.

'I asked him if he wanted to stay at Chelsea, not only for this season but for more time.

'He told me after 15 minutes that he wants to stay and he wants to play for Chelsea for many years.

'I am very happy because I think Chelsea needs Lampard and he likes Chelsea. Now it's a minimum of questions to solve it. I think Lampard is with us for more time than one year.

'Drogba is part of my plans 100%. No, 200%. I like him. Last season or two years ago I voted him one of the best players in the world. I think two or three years ago I chose John Terry. Now they are with me. I am happy.

'I spoke to Drogba because he arrived in our (training) base. He has a little problem with his knee. I spoke to him about how many times he needs normal training (but) I saw him happy.'

And while Terry's captaincy may be under threat at international level under Fabio Capello, as far as the new Chelsea coach is concerned, the defender will retain the armband at Stamford Bridge.

'I like him as a captain, I like him as a player,' said Scolari. 'I like him as a leader. Yesterday he came to my room and said 'I am John Terry'. I replied 'I know you' and we spoke.

'The captain is John Terry and second captain is Lampard. But we want more captains inside the team.'

Although Scolari insisted that two of his top players were not for sale, the Brazilian was not as forthcoming about any more new arrivals.

'I don't know now how many changes I need because I need to watch training, I need to know the players,' he added: 'When you are on the outside you have one idea - when you are inside the group you need to know the group, the characters, the qualities.

'After this it's possible to say how many changes I want or we need or don't need.'

Scolari looked refreshed after the rigours of his unsuccessful Euro 2008 campaign with Portugal and spoke in English for the majority of his first media conference.

The man who once famously ruled himself out of the running to manage England says the opportunity to manage Chelsea was a challenge he could not resist.

'It's a new challenge in my life,' added Scolari. 'It's a different challenge. I don't think in my life I have had one opportunity like Chelsea have given to me now.

'When I accepted this invitation I was thinking about my life as a coach and I think it's the right time.'

He spurned the England post due to concerns about the intense media pressure but now he is confident he can cope with all the added expectations of managing a club like Chelsea.

'Look, the pressure from media is around the world,' he added. 'If you are the coach in Brazil - wow, you know what pressure is. I think I am prepared. It's the first time for me in England but I haven't had a problem with the media during my life. I don't think I have a problem with it.'

The 59-year-old also declared himself unafraid of getting the sack if he should end his first year without a trophy.

Former coach Avram Grant finished runner-up to Manchester United in both the domestic top flight and the Champions League and Scolari is realistic enough to know that delivering silverware is crucial.

'I think all the coaches in the world need to win,' said Scolari. 'One or two or three competitions. All coaches. I am now in one of the big clubs in the world and for sure I need to win a competition. If I don't win it's the same for any coach.

'If it's possible and we try to play beautiful football. But sometimes if you want to win some games you don't play beautiful.

'Sure I want both - to win and play beautiful. Sometimes it's impossible.

'I think we have to think and to value all the competitions we participate in. After that we try to follow our own way to try to win as much as we can. I'm not going to give a priority to any of the competitions. All of them will be important.'

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Best Goal Celebrations

Best Goal Celebrations Video Ever

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Monday, July 7, 2008

Calcio Debate: Are Serie A Clubs Slaves To The Fans?

A football club’s supporters are the blood running through the heart of the club; without them no-one will cheer the team on, the club will not have enough money to exist, and will go out of business. With lots of supporters, the opposite happens; gate receipts increase, merchandise revenue increases, the buying power of the club goes up, and the club wins more. So should football club management be a slave to the tifosi, or do they know better?

Are Serie A Clubs Slaves To The Fans?

This issue has come to light due to the goings on in this summers transfer market. The furore that surrounded the Vieri to Atalanta saga was rare due to its ferocity. First, rumours circulated that ‘Bobo’ was to be offered a one-year contract with the Bergamo club, and the Atalanta fans immediately made their feelings known.

Vieri has played twice previously for Atalanta, netting 9 goals in 26 matches, the more recent spell coming in 2006/07 when the club helped him recover from a knee injury that had seen him sidelined for around a year with Monaco. He only made seven substitute appearances, scoring twice, before moving on the next season to Fiorentina, leaving Atalanta fans angry and disappointed.

Upon being linked with a return to the north Italian club, fans graffitied walls and put up posters around Bergamo to express their opposition, saying 'Ungrateful Vieri, you're not worthy of Atalanta'. This opposition was to no avail as the club went ahead with offering him a one year deal.

Whether this reaction is over the top or not is open to debate, but it seems clear that the hardcore of Atalanta fans at least, did not want the club to sign him. But as they as fans are the oil in the machinery of the club, should they be listened to? Not necessarily. The Nerazzurri tifosi may be angry now, but maybe this is one of the cases when the management know best.

Vieri has renewed his footballing career on the back of hard-work and increased professionalism, and scored 6 in 26 appearances for the Viola last term, playing the role of an impact player coming off the bench. The attackers already present at Atalanta don’t give opposition defenders too many sleepless nights; Simone Inzaghi failed to find the net in 19 attempts last year, Muslimovic got 2 in 10, Pinto 6 in his Nerazzurri career. Only Sergio Floccari could be happy with his goals tally of 8. Behind the main striker of course is the star player, and creative maestro Cristiano Doni, who with 12 goals is the main threat.

Therefore, Vieri might be just be the player they are looking for, able to win the odd game, and dependant on his physical state, a proven goalscorer. Coming off the bench to link up with Doni could prove decisive in some games, and the Ultras may have to help themselves to some half-time humble pie. But this remains to be seen.

Alternatively, Serie A provides us with an alternative approach for fans regarding transfer policy; creating transfer request shortlists for their clubs to follow. Juventus fans have little faith in club President Giovanni Cobolli Gigli and sporting director Alessio Secco to find the right players for the Bianconeri, and so make their thoughts very clear. They refused outright the possible move of Dejan Stankovic to Juve due to their opposition to doing any transfers involving Inter Milan. Also, they campaign in fans forums and societies for new signings, which is where the interest in Xabi Alonso came from originally, or at least gained steam.

For this example though, we are talking about the same club ownership that bought Jean-Alain Boumsong, Tiago, and have been linked with Tottenham Hotspurs Younis Kaboul. A little opinion from the fans here may well be a good thing, especially regarding Stankovic, who apart from being an Inter player, has been quite aggressive towards Juventus in the past, saying “we win without stealing”. Knowing who the fans enemies are is surely key to any clubs transfer policy.

And a quick word on Silvio Berlusconi. As reported on All4All-m.blogspot.com, Milan fans are launching a petition against the Italian Prime Minister, demanding that he sells the club due to the lack of success and investment in the last two years. Although this looks more like a tactic to get Mr. Berlusconi’s considerable wallet out of his pocket, it does show how much influence the fans have. Due to his desire both to make Milan successful, and to be popular, this public declaration will almost definitely result in some expensive summer signings before the season begins.

Fan power will always be important to any football club, but it’s up to the management to take into account their opinions, and make the best decision for all concerned based on all the evidence, not just emotions.

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Milan Admit Adebayor & Drogba Interest

Milan technical director Leonardo has admitted that the club are still interested in signing Premiership duo Emmanuel Adebayor and Didier Drogba.

Milan Admit Drogba Interest

The Rossoneri have made no secret of their intentions to sign a world class centre forward this summer, and several weeks ago coach Carlo Ancelotti named both Arsenal’s Adebayor and Chelsea’s Drogba on a four-man striker shortlist.

Milan’s attempts to buy either of these two players has proved frustrating, and it had appeared last week that they had given up all hope.

However it was reported in the Italian press this morning that the Diavoli had reignited their interest in Adebayor, and now Leonardo admits that they also still hold an interest in Drogba too.

“It’s no secret that we’re interested in signing a forward and we are looking at candidates,” the Brazilian told BBC Sport.

“Drogba is a fine player and I really like Adebayor. We are just waiting for the right time to make a move."

Leonardo also bemoaned the fact that Italian clubs do not hold the financial power that their English and Spanish counterparts do.

“We have to accept that the incomes of the top English and Spanish teams are greater than they are in Italy and it’s very hard for us to compete,” he explained.

“But we can offer other things. We have a first-class environment for players and a wonderful history.”

Leonardo represented Milan as a player from 1997 to 2001 and 2002 to 2003.

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The Nooner (July 7) -- Rapid Fireworks

It was another win on the 4th of July for Colorado with New York this time playing the role of lambs being led to the slaughter. Goal.com’s Kyle McCarthy rips the Red Bulls in his Monday MLS Breakdown. Can we start taking bets on who will be their next head coach?



Because you’re happy you still have all your fingers.

Elsewhere on Friday, New England showed the best in the East is twice as good as the West while Kansas City and Dallas proved the teams that suck, suck equally.

Saturday provided the most entertaining match as Columbus came from behind to tie Chicago. And then Chivas and San Jose promptly put the Nooner to sleep in the nightcap.

As the transfer rumors continue, Brad Friedel may follow his former boss, Mark Hughes, to Manchester City. Finally! Something about Manchester the Nooner can root for.

Here’s your daily Cristiano Ronaldo (who is having surgery) update: Real Madrid Prez Ramon Calderon says United have a chance to make history, but is flip flopping more than John Kerry. And here’s something to day dream about while you’re avoiding work today.

ManU may have an old face back in the mix as Eric Cantona wants to coach. Crystal Palace fans are now fine with not being promoted this season.

Inter are finalizing their plans to snare a pair of Chelsea men as they have faxed a £6.5 million bid for Frank Lampard, while Didier Drogba has apparently agreed to join the Nerazzurri. The only question is how much will Luis Jimenez get for the #11 shirt from Drogba?

AC Milan are set to make a €30 million for Emmanuel Adebayor. For that he can wear any number he wants. Well, any except number three.

Brazil boss Dunga claimed Milan goalkeeper Dida is the best in the world at his position. He then exhaled and looked for some Funyuns.

The Nooner would pay attention to the Chinese Super League if all headlines were as good as this one.

In other news…

Joey Chestnut beat Takeru Kobayashi in the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest for the second straight year, this time in an eat off. Some things are not meant for HD.

Spain continued dominating international competitions as Rafa Nadal ended Roger Federer’s five-year run at Wimbledon. Fortunately, he was classier than his futbol compatriots in celebrating the victory.

Britain’s High Court ruled that Pringles aren’t a potato snack and cannot be taxed as such. Pringles wouldn’t have been taxed had they made tennis balls either.

Comedian Jim Gaffigan turns 42 today and is celebrating right meow.

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Nike Ad: Take it to the next level

Take it to the next level at the unedited level.



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Wenger's pronouncement is odd and unsettling

Another season of unsettling news out of the Emirates. Flamini gone to Inter, Ade and Hleb's future looking murky; Rosicky and Eduardo with major injury concerns. In short our attack is stretched very, very thin and needs an infusion in double quick time in order to remain competitive.

It appears that we are linked to either Andrei Arshavin or Klaas Jan Huntelaar, even maybe both for a reported combined price tag of £38m.

But this is to be seen in context of Wenger's bizarre statement: “The strategy of the club is to sell every year and to buy less expensive players.”

Wenger says that this will be the strategy for the next 17 years to pay off the debt on the stadium. This cost cutting strategy will generate a £24m surplus annually. Yes, Arsenal is officially in the business of leveraging players.

In effect too, buying players now is contingent on maintaining the £24m margin. Which means that Arshavin and Huntelaar don't come under the category of 'less expensive players' . And I agree with Arseblog, Wenger's pronouncement makes no sense if Arsenal wants to retain a bargaining advantage. In fact, with this there will be very few "less expensive players" left on the market with clubs cognizant of Wenger's plan. It all seems quite fishy.

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A study provides an insight into Senna's capabilities

Marcos Senna is listed as a midfielder but his usefulness lies in his being a utility player capable of coming forward on attack, falling back to defend, and controlling midfield. He is strong in the air, very capable with free kicks, burns up the outside turf to slice in a cross, quick and decisive in his tackling, and shows some dribbling chops too, turning and twisting his way through defenders.

A time motion study (Bloomfield, et. al, 2007) analyzing purposeful movements of players playing specific positions show clear demarcations with midfielders covering more ground, defenders spending more time running backwards and laterally,and strikers turning more. Midfielders also play more short passes as defenders go for the long ball. They also spend significantly more time in skills such as tackling as compared to other positions. Strikers and defenders spend more time in high intensity physical contact as they use their body strength to advantage to head or break or make tackles.

A player like Senna probably washes out the significant differences between positions, successfully melding midfielding capabilities with aspects of defending and striking skills to create a physical and protean presence on the field.

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Zenit reject second Barcelona offer for Arshavin

Zenit St Petersburg have rejected a 15 million euro (£12m) offer from Barcelona for playmaker Andrei Arshavin, the Russian champions said on Monday.

Arshavin

"Barcelona had failed to improve their original offer of 15 million euros, thus we decided to end our negotiations with the Spanish club," Zenit said on their Web site www.fc-zenit.ru.

"We have not received any offers for Arshavin from any other clubs, therefore there are no discussions going on about his transfer."

Last week, Zenit offered to extend Arshavin's current deal by two more years until 2012.

Zenit have given the 27-year-old, who reportedly earns three million euros a year, more than any other player in Russia, two weeks to decide his future.

Arshavin did not play in a 5-1 win over Siberian side Tomsk on Sunday, Zenit's first Russian premier league match after the seven-week break for Euro 2008.

Zenit's Dutch coach Dick Advocaat said he would not use his top player until he makes up his mind.

The Russia international has said on several occasions that he wanted to move abroad, Barcelona being his first choice.

After missing Russia's first two Euro 2008 games through suspension, Arshavin returned to lead them to the semi-finals, the country's best showing at a major championship since 1988.

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The English League falters in its Euro impact

I always think that international competitions like Euro or the World Cup provide much needed correctives.

Fernando Torres muscled his way past Philip Lahm in one of the more indelible images of Euro 2008 to provide Spain's winner. The Liverpool striker was one of the heroes in his country's win against Germany. However his Premiership compatriots Cesc Fabregas and Michael Ballack had a more muted final as the players from the Bundesliga and La Liga provided the most highlights. The final showed Iniesta, Xavi, Senna, Silva, Ramos and Marchena at their sparkling best as they ran over Germany who relied once again on Podolski and Schweinsteiger to spare the blushes.

When you compare the big four contribution to national squads, La Liga and Serie contributed 38 apiece and the Bundesliga topped out with 59 players with the largest numbers going to their own teams. The English league even without England's participation provided 47 players, far ahead of La Liga and Serie. Squads with large representations included Portugal and Netherlands, who despite their bright start could not take their game to the next level. This in some aspects is a reprisal of the 2006 World Cup where the English league found its influence on the wane as the tournament went deeper despite the FA touting publicly the maximum number of players to the national squads.

One wonders why this is so? The English League is overwhelmingly the largest in terms of viewership and revenues. With many of its clubs under the control of deep pocketed ownerships, it doles out the biggest chunk of change for the best talent and the largest overseas contingent of players is evidence of where the sport has shifted. Their clubs took three semifinal spots in the CL cup this year.

But all this is for nought because once again as demonstrated in the Euro it was the other leagues that provided the impact players when national pride was at stake.

One of the biggest differences between the English league and other leagues is the intensity of scheduling and the amount of recovery time it gives its players. The English league with its packed domestic fixtures and international obligations for revenue reasons does not give a winter break to its players, a month which finds other leagues enjoying a breather and players recuperating from niggling injuries. This is especially crucial in years when international competitions take center stage with little lag from the end of the league season. For elite Premiership clubs playing this year's CL, recovery gets even more abbreviated. Players from Man U and Chelsea hyperventilating from the grueling CL final literally flew into Klagenfurt or Geneva from Luzhniki Stadium the next day to start their Euro campaign. Fatigue is cumulative and fresher legs do count for a lot more.

The other reason is more controversial and insidous. The English League's combative attitude frequently pushes players to choose club over country. Jose Mourinho was so incensed by Michael Ballack's ankle surgery peformed by German doctors that he was seriously considering shipping Ballack off. Jogi Low had to eat humble pie. Everton's David Moyes threw a fit when he said that witch doctors were trying to force Tim Cahill's recovery for Australia's World Cup 2006 opener against Japan. Sir Alex considered a lawsuit against the FA if Rooney came back as damaged goods from the World Cup. Obviously such measures are protective in nature and serve the club's self interest but they also sub-consciously create conditions where players have to choose between their bread and butter and abstractions such as national pride. Doubts like these can lead to fluctuations in motivation and performance as can levels of fitness and fatigue.

Factors such as these are partly responsible for England's failure on the international level apart from a whole horde of tactical shortcomings and perceived lack of talent. But all these factors put together also affect English League overseas players when they play for their national squads.

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Nadal VS Federer Wimbledon Final 2008 Highlights

Spain's Rafael Nadal falls to the court as he celebrates his win over Switzerland's Roger Federer in the men's final on the Centre Court at Wimbledon

Watch Highlights of unforgettable Wimbledon Final epic

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Nadal is triumphant after unforgettable Wimbledon epic

Rafael Nadal celebrates his epic five-set victory over Roger Federer at Wimbledon

By the time it was over, at 9.15pm, it had become almost impossible to see the ball, yet all eyes remained riveted. There was, after all, an extraordinary afterglow, provided by arguably the greatest tennis match ever played.

Rafael Nadal, the 22-year-old Mallorcan who already holds four French Open titles, won it when he beat Roger Federer of Switzerland for the Wimbledon men's singles title he was defending for the fifth time, by 6-4, 6-4, 6-7, 6-7, 9-7 in four hours, 46 minutes. However, a point had been reached when the matter of who won and who lost had become almost secondary to the scale of the spectacle and the level of the fight. Federer, 26,understandably questioned the proposition but he did agree that even in defeat – an extremely painful one, he made no attempt to disguise – he was still proud to play in such a match.

"It's not for me to say that was the greatest match ever played at Wimbledon or anywhere else. It is for all who saw it and those who rank these things, but I will say that I was proud to play in such a match and that Rafa played so well.

"No, it was not much fun playing in that light but I suppose it would have been brutal for everyone having to come back in the morning." It would certainly have broken an amazing spell if the game's climax had been delayed overnight.

For much of a match that was interrupted for more than an hour by an afternoon rain shower, it seemed that the usual demarcation lines between sport and deeper human dramas had been crossed as Federer fought his way back from what seemed to be a crisis of self-belief.

A delighted Rafael Nadal checks that his trophy is real after his sensational victory over Roger Federer in five sets.

At times, the man who had dominated his sport for five years and become, perhaps inevitably, a close friend of the dominant golfer Tiger Woods, was reduced to moments of agonised indecision. His shot selection, normally a matter of wonder and ultimate confidence, seemed to have become hopelessly blurred as his powerful and relentless young challenger strode confidently into a two-set lead.

It seemed then that the tennis age of Roger Federer was at an end, driven down by the new and irresistible force of Rafael Nadal. But it was then that something quite magical happened. Federer started to fight as if this was the most important tennis match he had ever played, a remarkable impression given the fact that he is just two Grand Slam titles away from matching the record 14 of the fabled American Pete Sampras.

Before Nadal's moment of victory, the most stirring moment came when the defending, embattled champion saved match point in the second of two tie-breaks that he won to carry the match into a fifth set. He did it with a backhand down the line which some tennis aficionados are saying will share immortality with the match.

"It was an unbelieavably important shot," said Federer, "but at that point it was simply what I had to do."

Yet if Federer achieved a special kind of glory, that of the defending champion who created a match of historic significance, there was no doubt about the weight of Nadal's achievement.

Rafael Nadal is giving back in a big way.

Last month, on his favourite surface of clay at Roland Garros in Paris he thrashed the great champion in three sets – but last night he invaded Federer's own terrain of grass. By way of celebration, he climbed into the Royal Box to receive the congratulations of the crown prince of Spain, Felipe. Then he acknowledged the extraordinary fight of the fallen champion.

"I'm so proud because I feel I am playing against, and now beating, the best player in the history of tennis. The fight he put up against me was unbelievable and I congratulate him for that. I also have to say that he is a credit to our sport whether he wins or he loses."

It was a generous statement from a brilliant and unforgiving young contender who had played Federer to the very edge of his limits.

Then, when the great player found his nerve again, Nadal found it necessary to beat him again. Wimbledon, and anyone who cares about sport, will never forget it.

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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Real Madrid and Man U figure out how to solve the Ronaldo problem

Real Madrid and Man U figure out how to solve the Ronaldo problem

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon and Manchester United chief executive David Gill will be holding talks in Switzerland about the Cristiano Ronaldo problem.If the talks break down they are going to solve things using plan B - shown above.

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