Thursday, July 31, 2008

Video: Arsenal 3 Stuttgart 1


Nicklas Bendtner, Carlos Vela and 16-year-old Jack Wilshere were all on target.Lehmann an old man of 38 by comparision was brilliant in a reflex save that denied Theo Walcott from point-blank range after he was set up by van Persie.


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The fattest footballers of them all..

Mirror,mirror on the wall
Who are the fattest footballers of them all?

Here's what the mirror said : Andy Reid,Mark Bosnich,John Hartson,Kevin Pressman,Ronaldo,Razor Ruddock,Neil Shipperley,Rooney,Maradona and Neville Southall
Pictures here.

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Ronaldo: I'm Joining Madrid Next Week

Cristiano Ronaldo has sensationally told Spanish newspaper 'AS' that he will be joining Real Madrid, and will next week travel to Manchester to notify Sir Alex Ferguson that he is leaving the English and European Champions.

Ronaldo: I'm Joining Madrid Next Week

Real Madrid have been on red alert ever since the Portuguese international spoke of his ambition to join them. Madrid President Ramon Calderon has even boasted of how he would splash out €100m on the United man, only for the English club to refute all offers and shackle the player.

It now seems as if the English club has no choice but to sell, as Ronaldo has issued an ultimatum as he attempts to cut and run from Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.

Ronaldo is currently in Portugal where he is recovering from injury but he admits that he will return to England next week to confront his club and tell them that he is joining Real.

"Everything is fine. Next week I will return to England and tell them [Manchester United] that my only desire is to play for Real Madrid and that I will not negotiate," Ronaldo told AS.

According to reports in Spain, the winger will hold a meeting next Tuesday with Ferguson and the club's owners to tell them that he has had enough.

It's not what United fans want to hear but it seems as if the Ronaldo saga is finally coming to an end and no doubt Calderon will be dancing to the tune of Ronaldo's words.

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Babel: I'll Be Fit And Ready

Holland striker Ryan Babel has given the nation’s fans a lift with the news that he will be fit for the Olympic tournament, which kicks off in just over a week.

Babel: I'll Be Fit And Ready

The Liverpool striker risked the wrath of Rafa Benitez by joining up with the Dutch squad after tearing ligaments in his ankle during the build up to Euro 2008 in May, sidelining him for the competition in Austria and Switzerland.

The 21-year old was also expected to miss the start of the Premiership season, but the forward has now reiterated that he will be fit for Beijing after recovering quicker than anticipated.

“It is doing okay. I didn't have any moments throughout the game when it felt bad. It is definitely getting better,” Babel said.

“Last week I would say I was at about 85 per cent fitness and it has been difficult but it feels better.

“I think one more match and I will be ready for the Olympics.”

The player’s sentiments were given further credence as he came off the bench in Holland’s pre-Olympic match with Cameroon, scoring and setting another goal up as the side emerged 2-0 winners.

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Eto'o Bid Impossible If Villa And Silva Stay

Valencia's vice-president has confirmed that the club would only have a chance of signing Samuel Eto'o if David Villa or David Silva left and they do not want that to happen.

Eto'o Bid Impossible If Villa And Silva Stay

Fernando Gómez Colomer believes that los Ché face a real task to keep hold of both of their star players, but that is their first priority this summer.

After ending the campaign believing that one could leave, the arrival of Juan Villalonga appeared to end that worry, but he has now gone again and a big offer would be difficult to turn down.

"The main challenge is to keep Silva and Villa, because that in reality would be the same as making two big signings," Gómez Colomer confirmed.

The Mestalla-based outfit have been linked with a big money move to Eto'o, but the director admitted that is only a plan should Villa or Silva go.

"If that were to happen then it would be in August. But it would be virtually impossible unless either Silva or Villa left and we do not want that," he said.

"Should either go and Eto'o looks liek an impossibility then we would look for a player with similar qualities to his."

Eto'o was set to leave Barcelona as reports grew when he was still away on holiday, but he has now returned and shown that he is determined to prove himself to new coach Pep Guardiola.

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De La Red Ready To Impress At Madrid

Rubén De la Red has said that he would not feel under any pressure if Rafael Van der Vaart signs for Real Madrid and believes that he also has a place at the club.

Ruben De la Red - Getafe

The 23-year-old midfielder was re-signed by los Colchoneros after spending a season with Getafe and he is confident that he can prove himself at the Bernabéu.

Van der Vaart is reported to be signing for Madrid next week and that could limit De la Red's chances, but he does not think it will have much effect.

"The arrival of Van der Vaart does not worry me. If the club want to sign him it is because they think he is a great player," he told Marca.

"I am calm and have seen no sign that I will have to leave. The fact that there have not been many signings means that there is a good squad here and that the club counts on the players already here.

"This season I am prepared to prove myself and to show that can play in this team.

"All the youth team players want to have some minutes an to play and I have been playing well enough and had international experience.

"I believe that I have done what was expected of me and now I need to play like I did for Getafe."

De la Red feels like he has joined Madrid as a new player having had to sign a contract and make the move back across the Spanish capital.

"It does feel like that because season I was with Getafe and Madrid had to sign me because I was not on loan," he explained.

Finally, De la Red explained that he can play anywhere in the centre of the park and hopes that his versatility will prove to be useful for coach Bernd Schuster.

"I like to play in the pivotal role, although I am also very comfortable in either midfield position. In that sense I have no problem and feel that I can be a part of the plans," he added.

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Gallas Shrugs Off PSG Rumours

Arsenal captain William Gallas has revealed that he has not had any contact with Paris Saint-Germain despite rumours he may be joining them this summer...

William Gallas , Arsenal - Chelsea


Gallas, who has been at the club for two seasons, endured a forgettable end to last season, with many holding him responsible for Arsenal's collapse after he threw a tantrum when the Gunners were held by Birmingham City in the first of what proved to be four straight draws followed by a loss that knocked them out of contention for the Premier League title.

He has, however, received backing from within the club since, yet rumours have persisted he may leave for Paris-Saint Germain, as the French capital club look to rebuild following a season in which they were uncomfortably close to relegation.

They have already signed Ludovic Giuly and Claude Makelele and were close to a third French veteran in Lilian Thuram, only for the deal to be cancelled after potentially life-threatening heart ailment that in fact killed Thuram's brother was found to be something the legendary defender is also suffering from.

Gallas has been mooted as another option, with many sources continuing to speculate that the former Chelsea stopper is unsettled, but he has now moved to squad speculation, writing on his own official website: "I do not know where this rumour came from, but I've never had any contact with PSG.

"Personally, I feel very happy at Arsenal, at the end of this season I will have one year on my contract and a return to France is, for now, not on the agenda."

In other news, Arsenal are hot on the trail of Hearts of Oak teenage prodigy, Tawrick Jibril.

The 16-year-old trialled with the Gunners earlier this year and has since been mooted for a move to either England's capital or Spain's, with Atletico Madrid close to landing the Ghanaian.

Atleti's' failure to close the deal has reopened the door for Arsenal, who may seal his signature in the coming weeks.

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Sneijder: I Would Love Van Der Vaart To Join

Wesley Sneijder has said that he wants to play alongside Rafael Van der Vaart at Real Madrid and believes his versatile compatriot would be a strong addition to the squad.

Sneijder: I Would Love Van Der Vaart To Join

Reports suggest that los Merengues are set to finalise the transfer of the Hamburg player next week and if that move goes through then it could signal the end of the Cristiano Ronaldo saga.

When asked about his partnership with Van der Vaart at Ajax and the Netherlands national team, Sneijder said he would like it to resume at the Bernabéu.

"It would be great to play again alongside him at Madrid," he told reporters.

"He can play in the middle or in the same role that Raúl has been playing behind the striker. I think he is also comfortable in the two central midfield positions too.

"Having a player so versatile would be great in a season that will not doubt be very long and see some injuries."

Sneijder is also looking forward to the new season and is pleased that Schuster is prepared to let him play his own game, as long as he remembers to track back.

"I have a lot of freedom when I play, but Schuster does ask me to make sure to cover my defensive duties as well as going forward," he continued.

"I can play on the right, left or in the centre. Normally I play on the left, but when I find space in the middle I drift in behind the main forward."

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Ronaldo And Anderson's Mansions Targeted

Controversial Cristiano Ronaldo and Manchester United team-mate Luis Anderson are sweating over a security scare involving their homes...

Ronaldo And Anderson

Manchester United pair Cristiano Ronaldo and Anderson have been alerted to an incident concerning their multi-million pound mansions in Alderley Edge.

The Mirror reports that unnamed thieves first targeted the home of a cleaner who is contracted to both properties, making off with the keys to Ronaldo and Anderson's houses.

The keys were inside the cleaner's handbag and found stashed nearby by police officers.

Both players are currently out of the country, but Old Trafford staff have alerted them of the breach and assigned security to their homes and the surrounding area.

The plush area in Ashton-under-Lyne, 12 miles south of Manchester, is home to a number of current United stars including Rio Ferdinand, Mikaël Silvestre and Michael Carrick. The Beckhams also lived there during David's time at the club.

A source explained: "There is no evidence this was a targeted break-in, but you simply don't know."

Police confirmed the theft, adding that, "inquiries are ongoing."

Meanwhile, Anderson is hoping his house will be safe enough by the time he returns from Beijing to store a gold medal.

The 20-year-old will represent Brazil U-23s in the Olympic football tournament and hopes for a strong showing.

He said: "I can't deny how important it is to win the only medal that Brazil has never won."

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Serbian War Criminal Hid Inside San Siro

The nephew of Serbian war criminal, Radovan Karadzic, has revealed that Europe’s most wanted man used to visit the San Siro to follow Inter.

karadzic

Karadzic was recently arrested in Belgrade after being on the run from the International Criminal Tribunal since 1995.

He is accused of a number of crimes during the Bosnian war and is now likely to face the justice system.

His nephew, Dragan Karadzic, admits his uncle was a big fan of Calcio and that he used to be a die-hard Nerazzurri fan.

“My uncle used to go to the San Siro to follow Inter and his idols, Sinisa Mihajlovic and Dejan Stankovic,” Karadzic told Il Corriere Della Sera.

“He is a big fan of Calcio and he used to go to see matches in 2004. First at Lazio and then Inter.”

Radovan Karadzic became one of the world’s most wanted criminal’s but his penchant for the Italian game will have, once again, tarnished the Calcio image.

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Barcelona Confirm Celtic Crosas Contact

Barcelona have confirmed that Celtic have made an enquiry about Marc Crosas and know how much the midfielder will cost to sign permanently or to take on loan.

Barcelona logo

The Catalan giants are keen to see their youth team product gain more first team experience after spending last term on loan with Lyon and would prefer a temporary move.

Celtic could sign Crosas if they want to for around €3m, but Gordon Strachan is also reported to prefer the idea of borrowing the player to see how he settles in.

A Blaugrana spokesman told the Daily Record: "Celtic have talked to us about both a loan and permanent deal regarding Marc Crosas.

"They know what that will cost. Marc is to travel to America with the team so we don't think anything will happen until they return."

Crosas has gone to the United States on Barça's pre-season tour, but could fly home early if a deal is agreed with Hoops before next week.

Sevilla are also said to be monitoring the player's situation and could rival the Scottish giants, but the attraction of playing in the Champions League means Celtic are in the stronger position.

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Mrs Shinawatra Facing Jail

Manchester City owner Thaksin Shinawatra is currently fighting tooth-and-nail in the Thai courts, with his wife now found guilty of tax evasion...

Thaksin Shinawatra - Manchester City

The Thai courts are currently gunning for Thaksin Shinawatra. Supporters claim the recent turmoil surrounding the ex-Thai PM stems from political reasons, whilst others suggest that Shinawatra's shady business empire is crashing down around him.

Either way, the Telegraph reports that the Man City supremo's wife has been sentenced to three years behind bars.

Pojaman Shinawatra was investigated over an illegal tax-free transfer of £1.1m into one of the Shinawatra family's business interests and subsequently slammed in Bangkok. She has, however, made bail and has 30 days to plan her inevitable appeal.

Having been Prime Minister for five years, Mr Shinawatra was then in exile in England for 17 months after a military coup, during which time he split his time between London and Manchester, where he purchased Eastlands club City.

Now, though, it appears that he has much work to do in his homeland. Aside from his wife's sentence, he's currently on trial in three cases, a figure which could reach double figures as police continue to probe his business and political affairs.

Still, spokesman Pongthep Thepkanjana insists Mr Shinawatra is taking everything in his stride, saying: "Thaksin is not disheartened [by his wife's trial verdict]. They respect the court ruling, but we will fight until the end."

Biographer Chris Baker, though, isn't so sure. He added: "This is obviously a very black day for the whole family. It's really quite a tense situation for him."

The first of the army-instigated trials could reach a verdict in September. Although Shinawatra denies all allegations against him, a negative supreme court verdict would not be open to appeal.

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Kalou Defends Olympic Decision

Chelsea's Salomon Kalou believes his impending Olympic adventure will have a positive impact on his Premiership campaign, despite recent worry about his involvement...

Didier Drogba and Salomon Kalou, Cote D'Ivoire - Nigeria

Salomon Kalou's (pictured right) wisdom has been called into question of late. The Chelsea striker will take the risk of going to the Olympics with the Ivory Coast U23 squad, rather than seek to get off on the right foot with new Stamford Bride gaffer Luiz Felipe Scolari.

Thus, he'll miss the start of the Premiership campaign as last season's Premiership, Carling Cup and Champions League runners-up seek further improvement under former Portugal boss Scolari.

However, at 22-years-old Kalou is within his rights to go, although the Beijing tournament isn't officially recognised by FIFA.

Now, Kalou himself has played down fears over his Olympic involvement.

He said: "Playing competitive football will help me for the season as I am playing at a good level.

"I feel that when I arrive back in England I'll be ready."

The winger has scored 14 goals for the Blues in 63 appearances since moving from Dutch club Feyenoord in 2006.

However, he's clearly keen to continue to cement his place in the Ivorian consciousness, having netted 6 times in just 8 games.

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PAOK Sign Pablo García

PAOK has secured one of the biggest signings in its history after Uruguay international and former Real Madrid defensive midfielder Pablo Garcia signed a two-year contract with the Thessaloniki club.

Spain: Pablo Garcia, midfielder of Real Madrid

The 31 year-old former AC Milan player was mobbed by fanatical PAOK fans at the Thessaloniki International Airport in Macedonia when he arrived on Thursday, as the player emerged wearing a pinstriped PAOK baseball cap and a black-and-white scarf wrapped around his neck.

A statement on the club's official website read: “PAOK would like to announce that it has signed Uruguay international midfielder Pablo Garcia on a two-year contract.”

The free-transfer of Garcia follows the arrival on-loan of Panathinaikos defender Filippos Darlas, with centre-back Christos Melissis and attacker Lazaros Christodoulopoulos both joined the Athenian club.

The Uruguayan will link-up with Chile international Pablo Contreras and Bosnia and Herzegovina international Zlatan Muslimovic, who both received similar welcomes from adoring PAOK fans upon their respective arrivals to the airport.

In what has been a highly successful summer transfer season for the Double-Headed Eagle of the North, club president Theodoros Zagorakis and technical director Zisis Vryzas have managed to secure the signature of three relatively high-profile internationals.

One of those is Greece international goalkeeper Kostas Chalkias who has signed from rivals Aris Thessaloniki, despite the well-documented financial struggles and constraints of the club in recent years.

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Gomez says he will remain with Stuttgart

Germany striker Mario Gomez has rubbished speculation linking him with a move away from Stuttgart.

Gomez remaining with Stuttgart

Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich have made no secret of their desire to lure Gomez to the Allianz Arena.

English Premier League side Arsenal have been also credited with an interest in the 23-year-old.

However, Gomez, who scored 19 goals in the Bundesliga last season, said he had no intention of leaving Stuttgart.

"Some people have asked me to state my loyalty to Stuttgart," the giant striker told his own website.

"That is not necessary though as not once did I say I wanted to leave the club this summer. I have a contract with Stuttgart.

"I am honored by the interest from some leading European clubs but, as I said months ago, if I move, everything has to be right."

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Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Judgement day for Messi: The FIFA verdict....


Blatter told Barcelona ..."He'll be back"
The FIFA ruling on Wednesday cleared the way for Argentina star Lionel Messi to represent his country at the Beijing Olympics.Story here....

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Videos from the world of Friendlies: Arsenal 10 ,Chelsea 2

Not against each other.Arsenal scored 10 goals against Burgenland in a pre season friendly which come to think of it was not a very friendly thing to do.Nicklas Bendtner scored four goals and Carlos Vela got a hat-trick.Wilshere and Walcott completed the carnage.



Chelsea on the other hand rounded off their Asian Tour with a 2 - 0 win over a Malaysian Team.

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Deep thought: Robbie Keane is the answer to Liverpool's title hopes


Hmmmm. Eighteen years since they won their last title. Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, Emile Heskey, Milan Baros, Luis Garcia, Peter Crouch, have come and gone. Both Fowler and Owen are in the Premiership top 10 goalscorers list.

Admittedly, Keane brings some serious firepower, getting many goals from deflections and spills. He has a knack of being at the right spot and the right time. But he is also very streaky going through goal scoring droughts, injury prone, and if he has to think too much usually flubs it.

It would be useful when Keano gets streaky that he scores goals that win Liverpool matches which they really need to win rather than proving to be a statistical supplement to Torres. Having Torres last season added +10 goals to their 2006 - 2007 season of 57 goals which actually resulted in them moving down one spot to fourth. Liverpool also drew 13 matches that seriously slowed them down. So a quality striker like Torres is not going to do it by himself.

The other issue will be where does he play in the 4-2-3-1 scheme that Rafa employs? Well, Rafa seems to think that Keane can be quite versatile. "We can play 4-4-2 with Keane and Torres or someone, or 4-2-3-1 and Keane can play on the right or on the left or as a second striker. It won't be a problem."

Keano can't play on the left or right, he plays pretty much straight down the pipe, hanging off the last defender. So it will have to be behind Torres.

Robbie Keane goal compilation >>


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Brad Friedel: Thou shalt be missed at Rovers


Think Rovers and the adjectives that flow are tough, uncompromising, physical, ugly, and effective. Part of the rorschach was a unyielding defense whose fail safe option at the back was Brad Friedel. I am sure that there are thousands of fans who feel a bit choked up at Friedel's departure for Villa which opened up once Paul Robinson was signed up by Paul Ince.

Peter Garrett like, Friedel's 6' 4" frame was an unshakeable and umistakable visage at Rovers for the last 8 seasons. I seriously think that Friedel counts for 80% of the few warm fuzzies left in the UK for the USA in these anti Bush days. See Pew polls >>

During his time and because of him in large part, Rovers made the transition to the Premiership in his 2001 inaugural season. The men from the North West gleefully stuck it to clubs taking themselves too seriously even as they cemented their place in the Premiership. Friedel's lightning reflexes, penalty saving instincts, and leadership at the back became a trademark.

It all counted for some unforgettable moments for Rovers fans. As an Arsenal fan, I remember the FA Cup fifth round match against us last year as Friedel kept the Gunners at bay with a wondrous double save. To my chagrin, the match ended in a draw with Rovers taking it to the next leg. This year, April 19th, 2008, he kept swatting aside Man Utd's attack as they circled around goal like sharks tasting blood and it took a 88th minute Tevez strike to breach the citadel. Thanks to that equalizing goal, Man U kept a crucial 3 point lead over Chelsea. Later, a relieved Carlos Queiroz praised Friedel's performance.

And who can forget his match against Spurs when they won the 2002 League Cup final, their first in 72 years. Friedel was at his best. This is what Paul Doyle had to say in his six great goal keeping displays of recent years.

"You could say this was the match in which Brad Friedel repaid his transfer fee ... if it weren't for the crazy fact that he came from Liverpol for free. Graeme Souness, then, at least made one inspired signing in his long and ludicrous managerial career."

And in another memorable moment, he scored his only goal against against Charlton in 2004, a dextrous piece of opportunism that would have made Gary Lineker proud.

I have never seen a drop off in Friedel's intensity and his willingness to give it his all in the years that he has played for Rovers. 287 matches started, most club appearances in the Premiership with 172 matches, a selection to the 2002-03 Premiership all team for keeping 15 clean sheets and leading them to a 6th place finish, good for an UEFA spot.

Friedel's brilliant goal against the Addicks >>

Friedel two times Arsenal >>

Fare thee well at Villa but ye shall be remembered fondly at Rovers.

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Video: Ronaldinho scores another goal at last...


Okay it was against Singapore - but a goal is a goal.And he is captain of the Brazil Olympic side so a few goals here and there in these practice games might rekindle that old spark.AC Milan is happy.Their new signing is shining already...!
And Ronaldinho fans are happy.And the man himself flashed the famous bucktoothed grin that launched a thousand goals so we can presume he is happy too.And he's looking thinner and fitter - which is good news for the game.
The other two goals in the game came from Diego and Jo.


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Messi Leaves Barça To Go To Olympics

Lionel Messi has left Barcelona's base in Italy and will take the first flight out to join his national team-mates in preparation for the Olympic Games after FIFA's ruling on Wednesday.

Messi Leaves Barça To Go To Olympics

Football's global governing body announced that all clubs must release their Under-23 players that have been called up to play in the tournament and Messi has acted immediately.

After staying quiet on the subject while he waited for Barça and Argentina to reach an agreement, the 21-year-old spoke out and stated that he would follow what FIFA decided.

If Barcelona then appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (TAS) and are successful, then Messi admits that he would grudgingly have to return to Camp Nou.

"I want to clear things up," he told Barça's official website. "I understand that position of the club because we are playing for so much. From the start I have said that I want to play for my national team and at no time have there been any problems until now.

"I am waiting to see what FIFA says and if they say I do not have to go then I will not go and if they say I have to go then I will go without waiting for the outcome of the TAS, because that would be too late and my team-mates and the national team coaching staff are waiting for me.

"If once I am there, TAS says that I have to return then I will return, but for the time being I want to be with my national team and my colleagues."

Messi is keen to play for Argentina, but claims that he realises why Barcelona are so keen to not see him have another draining summer to cope with.

"Barça maintain their position to not let me go and I understand that and I think they are right, but I also think that they have to understand that my dream is to play for my country at the Olympic Games," he added.

"I have already been told that was not on, that the national team did not want that, which is normal because they want a group of players to work with the whole time."

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Ledesma: I’m Leaving Lazio

Lazio midfielder Cristian Ledesma has announced on public radio that he will not sign a new contract at the club, meaning he will leave the Biancocelesti either this summer or next.

Serie A: Inter-Lazio. Ledesma

Ledesma has been attempted to negotiate a new contract with Lazio for quite some time now, however he has grown increasingly frustrated by the club’s refusal to issue him a decent pay rise.

The Argentine’s agent Vincenzo D'Ippolito has threatened on a number of occasions, and as recently as yesterday, that unless he is paid what he deserves, his client will execute FIFA's Article 17 in order to leave the club for a small fee next year.

Ledemsa has now himself announced that there is no chance of him signing a new contract, meaning that it is now inevitable that he will be leaving the Italian capital either this summer or next.

“There is no more margin for a contract renewal,” Ledesma, who joined Lazio from Lecce in 2006, told Radio Radio.

“There is no more margin because I do not want to renew.

"When I arrived here there were other teams I could have gone to where I would have made more money, but I chose Lazio for its history, and for the project.

“I accepted the salary cap, however, now things have changed. If a player is important, as is the case with me, it is only right to expect something more."

The only question that seemingly remains is whether or not Ledesma leaves now or in a year’s time. Were he to stay at the club until 2009, Lazio may only receive a small portion of compensation due to Article 17.

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Milan Have Best Keepers Ever – Kalac

Zeljko Kalac is looking forward to fighting for the Milan No.1 jersey this season with Nelson Dida and Christian Abbiati, and claims that he has never seen three goalkeepers of such quality all in one squad.

Milan Have Best Keepers Ever – Kalac

The Rossoneri have three experienced shot-stoppers to choose from this coming campaign, with Kalac, Abbiati and Dida all fighting it out for one spot in the team.

“Concerning the role of the keeper, I think that at Milan there are no problems,” Kalac is quoted as saying by Milan Channel.

“I have never seen three goalkeepers of this quality in one squad.

“Both Abbiati and Dida are nice lads and it's great to work together during training, it helps us improve.”

During last night’s victorious Trofeo TIM, Kalac played the first game against Juventus, while Abbiati turned out against Inter. The giant Aussie was happy that Milan returned back home from Turin with the cup, following penalty shootout wins against Juve and Inter, and he is looking forward to the new season.

“Personally I think last night's test in the Trofeo Tim was positive,” Kalac explained.

“We are satisfied with how it went. We are still at the start of the preparations for the new season and we must continue working well in this month, so we start the season in our best form.

“It's nice to see the enthusiasm of the fans around us, I think it’s caused by the purchases made by the club. The fans have a lot of faith in us which we hope to repay by winning again this year."

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Report: Bentley On The Brink Of Spurs Switch

Blackburn Rovers star David Bentley is reported to have passed his medical with Tottenham Hotspur and will be unveiled at a press conference tomorrow morning...

EPL: David Bentley, Blackburn Rovers - Newcastle United

The winger has been ready to leave Ewood Park for a number of months as he seeks a new challenge at a higher level, and despite first Mark Hughes and then Paul Ince's best attempts to keep the 23-year-old at the club, he is now on the brink of being formally presented as a Spurs player.

Bentley, a youth product of the Lilywhites' bitter city rivals Arsenal, rose to prominence with the Rovers, who he is eager to leave as soon as possible in order to join his new side on tour for the Jubileum Tournament in Feyenoord, Netherlands.

Aston Villa's single approach for the player was rebuffed earlier in the month, and Spurs themselves waited before lodging their first bid just two weeks ago, and despite facing rejection from Blackburn's defiant chairman, John Williams, a bid in the region of £18 million is said to have forced the Rovers' hand.

It is now being reported that a deal has been agreed between the clubs and the player and that a press conference scheduled for tomorrow at 10am BST will be to unveil the player.

Arsenal are likely to pocket as much as £7 million from the sale, with Spurs unlikely to stop their spending now, having let go of Robbie Keane, Pascal Chimbonda, Paul Robinson and others already, with Younes Kaboul, Dimitar Berbatov and more likely to follow.

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Milan Eye Up Chelsea Defender

According to reports in Italy and England, Milan are lining up a move for Chelsea outcast Bransilav Ivanovic.

Branislav Ivanovic - Chelsea

The Rossoneri have stated publicly that, following the arrival of Ronaldinho, they will be making no more signings this summer.

However, the recent injury suffered by Alessandro Nesta, has led to some concerns that the defence may be undermanned, and as a result the club are considering going back into the market for a stopper.

Latest reports in the Italian and English media suggest that Milan are eyeing up Chelsea’s forgotten man Branislav Ivanovic.

This time last year the Serbian defender was the talk of the continent following some outstanding displays in the Under-21 European Championships in Holland. The defender was admired by many of the top clubs in Europe, including Juventus, Inter, Manchester United, and Milan themselves, but it was Chelsea who eventually won the race to sign him, paying Lokomotiv Moscow €13m in January of this year.

Since arriving at Stamford Bridge, Ivanovic has become something of a forgotten man, and he has still yet to make his first team debut, despite having no injuries.

With fierce competition this season from John Terry, Riccardo Carvalho, and Alex, his chances also look slim this term, and as a result Milan are hoping to acquire the 24-year-old on a season-long loan deal, possibly with an option to sign him permanently next summer.

Ivanovic is not the only Chelsea player to have been linked with Milan in recent days, as the Italians are also said to be considering former star Andriy Shevchenko.

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Jenas And Dawson Sign New Spurs Deals

Amidst the sale of several player, Tottenham Hotspur's Jermaine Jenas and Michael Dawson will be delighted to have received new contracts that run until 2013...

Jenas And Dawson Sign New Spurs Deals

Dawson, though not a first choice defender on paper, gains much match time at White Hart Lane while Jonathan Woodgate and captain Ledley King spend much time out with injuries.

The youngster has gone from strength to strength every season for the Lilywhites since joining from Nottingham Forest in 2005 and still has several years ahead of him. With Spurs' defence being one of their weaknesses following Ramos' appointment, his renewal of Dawson's contract sends a bold statement that he certainly is not blaming the 24-year-old.

Jenas was one of the better performers for Ramos, particularly in big games at the beginning of 2008, playing a key role in Spurs 5-1 (6-2 aggregate) mauling of local rivals Arsenal. The energetic midfielder earned a call-up to Fabio Capello's inaugural England squad - and scored - though he has since found life a little more difficult making it back into the team.

"The Club is delighted to announce that Jermaine Jenas and Michael Dawson have signed contract extensions that will see the pair at White Hart Lane until 2013," read a statement on Tottenham's official website.

"Jermaine, 25, joined in August 2005 from Newcastle United and has gone on to make 111 appearances, while contributing 21 goals from midfield. His form last season saw him win a recall to the England side and he was the first goalscorer of Fabio Capello's reign as national team manager.

"The 24-year-old Michael has now made 136 First Team appearances in our colours since joining from Nottingham Forest in January 2005, scoring three goals. The popular central defender, who has been named in a number of England squads, made 40 appearances last season."

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Guardiola Prepares For Life Without Eto'o

Despite recent noises from president Joan Laporta about Samuel Eto'o's possibly being able to remain at Barcelona, coach Pep Guardiola is more apt to believe that the Cameroonian is still on his way out...




Statements from the player's agent this morning indicated that Samuel himself still feels that he's going to move on, and Guardiola is apparently acting with this firmly in mind.

Yesterday Guardiola conducted one of his regular meetings with sporting director Txiki Begiristain, and Sport.es claims that he did so in order to re-iterate the need for a new 'number 9.'

Emmanuel Adebayor is still on the agenda, but Chelsea's Didier Drogba may currently top the shopping list due to his apparent wish to join Barça last year.

Eto'o, meanwhile, is likely to be on the way out if Guardiola has anything to do with it, although the two seem to get along just fine in training.

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Neville: It Will Be Hard To Oust Brown

Manchester United captain Gary Neville has lavished praise on Wes Brown, the man who took his place in the team last season while he was out with injury...

Neville: It Will Be Hard To Oust Brown

The United skipper had a torrid time with recurring injuries throughout the Red Devils' heroic double-winning campaign last season, making just one substitute appearance in the Champions League and none in the Premier League or either domestic cup.

He has thus far had a slow and steady pre-season in which he has had the unrelenting support and assurances from manager Sir Alex Ferguson that he will be back in the team and as captain, the 33-year-old is aware of the challenge that lies ahead and full of praise for the man he will be looking to usurp.

"Last season was very frustrating from a personal point of view," the right-back told the Daily Express. "It was very disappointing not be involved in what was such a great season for the club.

"Playing in these matches in pre-season will help my fitness and sharpness and hopefully I can be a part of another successful season.

"It is a big challenge every season at United and for me personally, I have to get back and try and break into a team that has won a double. That is hard enough.

"I can talk about my injuries and being out for 12 months, but Wes has been out with cruciate knee injuries twice in his career. He is an inspiration.

"Last season I would say he was among our top two or three consistent players. He was fantastic throughout.

"I have a number of challenges and one of them is to get in the team ahead of Wes. That's going to be hard the way he performed last season."

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Iaquinta: We’re A Match For Anyone

Vincenzo Iaquinta insists that Juventus are a match for anyone this season, and he is looking forward to next month’s Champions League preliminaries.

Iaquinta: We’re A Match For Anyone

The Bianconeri have been in fine form in pre-season, and last night put in a couple of sound 45 minute displays in the Trofeo Tim, drawing 2-2 with Milan (before losing on penalties), before beating Serie A champions Inter 1-0.

Iaquinta scored the winner against the Nerazzurri, continuing his own personal hot streak after he had also scored three goals in the recent friendly wins against Borussia Dortmund and Brondby.

“I feel very good, fortunately my injuries are in the past now and I hope I can get to the preliminaries 100% fit,” said Iaquinta, who missed periods of last season due to recurring physical problems.

“We are all doing very well up front, we're still in the preparation phase, but all four of us will be on good form when it counts.

“In the Trofeo TIM we had more confirmation that we can challenge any team.”

Iaquinta signed for Juve from Udinese last summer, and although his first season was a promising one, he made only nine Serie A starts due to a combination of injuries, and the fine form of David Trezeguet and Alex Del Piero.

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Official: Gunners Sign Bischoff

Werder Bremen’s Amaury Bischoff has become the latest youngster to join Arsene Wenger's troops at Arsenal. The Portuguese Under-21 international will wear the number 28 shirt at the Emirates as he prepares to begin summer training...

Arsene Wenger, Arsenal manager

Wenger will hope that they have struck gold with the 21-year-old, who has yet to play a top-flight game of football in his career.

The France-born Portuguese U-21 international has taken part in the UEFA Cup, though, and has also represented Werder Bremen's U-23 outfit on several occasions.

A diminutive midfielder, Bischoff has been linked with an Arsenal move since the beginning of the month after he elected to leave Werder without signing a new contract.

It is thought that Bischoff will begin his Gunners career in the reserves, although he will be hopeful of making the step up to the first team sooner rather than later.

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Cech: We'll Get It Right This Time

Chelsea keeper Peter Cech is confident that they will be able to exorcise the demons of that terribly bitter defeat to Manchester United in the Champions League final by going all the way this time around.

Cech: We'll Get It Right This Time

The Czech keeper used the occasion of Chelsea's first return to Moscow since the night of John Terry's infamous penalty miss to extol the virtues of redemption.

"You can turn the page and go on because you have to do it, but of course the defeat stays in your mind for quite a while - and the best way to forget about the memories from the losing Final is to get to another one," Cech told the club's official website.

"Only like that do you forget about the defeats in finals and we still have plenty of time to do it.

"What happened in Moscow happened in the past and we are coming looking to the future because the two games will be important for us to prepare for the start against Portsmouth.

"So we come here only for this purpose. I can't talk for everyone else, but for myself it is in the past and the new season starts and I am only looking forward."

Chelsea are in Moscow to take part in the Russian Railways Cup, which will see them take on hosts Lokomotiv on Friday, before squaring off against either AC Milan or Sevilla on Sunday.

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Adriano: We Need Time To Become ‘Special’

Adriano has played down Inter’s poor display in yesterday’s Trofeo TIM, and says that all the squad requires is a bit of time to get used to new coach Jose Mourinho.

Adriano - Inter Milan

The Nerazzurri finished last in last night’s annual three-way tournament in Turin, losing 1-0 to Juventus and going down on penalties to Milan following a goalless draw.

Employing Jose Mourinho’s trademark 4-3-3 formation, Inter struggled to interpret the new system, which has prompted the press to question whether the 4-3-3 is suitable in Italy.

Brazilian striker Amauri is not worried though, and says that in time everything will fall into place.

“We need more time,” said ‘The Emperor”.

“We have to work patiently to understand what the coach wants from us. You will soon see the difference in the play and in the results."

Adriano himself was delighted to be back involved in high-profile action, following his well documented personal problems that resulted in him spending the second half of last season on loan at Brazilian club Sao Paulo.

"In these recent days, I have worked hard with the will to be ready,” he explained.

“I am very happy to have scored the penalty. Tonight I had the possibility to play in attack because the opponents left us a lot of spaces in their defence.”

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Official: City Announce Ben Haim Signing

Manchester City have announced the capture of Chelsea fringe-man Tal Ben Haim...

Tal Ben Haim, Chelsea

A successful work permit application is all that stands in the way of Tal Ben Haim's switch from Chelsea to Manchester City.

City have announced the agreement via their official website, stating: "The 26-year-old former Bolton man has penned a four-year contract and becomes Mark Hughes second signing as City manager.

"Ben Haim becomes the second Israeli player to join the Club following in the footsteps of City legend Eyal Berkovic."

The first signing was, of course, big money Brazilian forward Jo from CSKA Moscow.
The left-sided defender has been unsettled at Stamford Bridge for some time. He slammed former boss Avram Grant late last season, insisting that Jose Mourinho was the reason he joined the Blues.

However, although another new boss has been installed in the shape of Luiz Felipe Scolari, Ben Haim didn't feature in his long-term plans and continued to push for an exit.

Ben Haim joins for an undisclosed fee, thought to be around £5m. He has been in the Premiership for four-years, having started his career with Maccabi Tel Aviv before moving to the Reebok Stadium for a bargain £150,000.

He will be assigned a squad number once the transfer is 100% completed. City are hoping to retain their first-choice centre-backs Richard Dunne and Micah Richards, but Ben Haim will be keen to force his way into the first team after languishing on the bench and in the reserves in the capital.

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Cesc: In Gallas We Trust

Arsenal ace Cesc Fabregas has thrown his full support behind club captain William Gallas in a recent interview with FourFourTwo magazine.

EPL: Francesc Fabregas , William Gallas and Manuel Almunia, Arsenal

Arsene Wenger's decision to entrust the captain's armband to Gallas, who incidentally is the subject of persistent transfer interest from Paris Saint Germain, is one of his most oft criticised.

The French defender's suitability for the role came under the most severe scrutiny when he staged that infamous sit-down protest on the pitch at St Andrews last February as Arsenal conceded two points in the title race to Birmingham, who converted a last-gasp penalty to draw 2-2.

Although Fabregas acknowledged that fixture as the moment it all came unravalled for Arsenal last campaign, he has refused to put the blame on Gallas.

"Maybe that (St Andrews) is where all our problems started. We had a month-and-a-half after that game where our heads were not right," said the Spaniard.

"William is a great captain, I really respect him, and the longer he is giving us the benefit of his experience, the better."

Fabregas, himself, has been earmarked as a future Arsenal skipper, and he left no doubt that he feels up to the task.

"I've shown I can take that responsibility and if I was made captain I would give even more - I don't know where I'd get that little extra from but I'd try to find it," he added.

"But I'm only 21. Right now I just want to win something for Arsenal."

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Laporta Upset Over Messi Incident

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has only reluctantly allowed Lionel Messi to travel to the Olympic games, stating in the aftermath that it was unjust that he was compelled to do so...

Laporta Upset Over Messi Incident

Leo was only allowed to head to Beijing after FIFA intervened and said that the Argentine must be allowed to represent his country.

Laporta said that this was "unfair" and that he intended to take the matter all the way to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS/TAS).

"We will continue with our position before the CAS in order to get Messi back for the Champions League," he said.

"It's unfair because this is not a tournament where a first team is used, but rather an Olympic one with an amateur spirit."

He further added that it would make no sense to turn the Games into "another World Cup."

To this end the president is keen to state that this is far from over, and that "if the TAS finds in favour of the club, Messi will have to come back."

Nonetheless he added that his intention here was not to harm in any way the young Argentine, who is keen to represent the albiceleste.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Ferguson: If Ronaldo Leaves I Will Too

Sir Alex Ferguson has dropped a bombshell by sensationally revealing that he will quit as manager of Manchester United if Cristiano Ronaldo leaves to join Real Madrid.

Ferguson: If Ronaldo Leaves I Will Too

It has been the transfer soap opera of the summer, and the most explosive episode so far may have just been aired.

With Man Utd publicly insisting that the Portuguese wizard is staying, Real Madrid quietly confident that they can get their man, and Ronaldo himself still remaining silent, Sir Alex Ferguson has moved to drop an absolute bombshell regarding the issue.

Ferguson, who has won more trophies than any other manager in the history of English football, has threatened to quit Manchester United if Ronaldo is sold.

"If Ronaldo leaves, I'm going too," the Scot is quoted as saying by Spanish newspaper Marca.

It is quite an astonishing statement from Fergie, who has been at Man Utd for the last 22 years, winning 10 Premier Leagues, five FA Cups, two Champions Leagues and an Intercontinental Cup, among a plethora of other honours.

Ferguson is well known to being a master when it comes to playing the media, and these comments, if Marca have reported them accurately, may have been intended to pile up the guilt on Ronaldo, and pressure him into staying at Old Trafford.

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Official: Reggina Sign Corradi

Reggina have officially completed the signing of Manchester City striker Bernardo Corradi.

Official: Reggina Sign Corradi

The 32-year-old Corradi joined Manchester City from Valencia in 2006, but after a poor first season in the Premiership, he was shipped off on loan last year to Parma.

The towering striker scored five goals in 27 appearances for the Gialloblu, but it was all in vain as they were relegated down to Serie B.

Corradi has since signalled his intention to stay in Italy, and he has now been granted this wish after coming to an agreement with Man City, which has allowed him to join Reggina on a one year deal. His objective will be to help the Calabrians avoid relegation once again.

The former Italy international, who won 13 caps for his country, first burst onto the scene during the 2001/02 season when he scored 10 goals in 32 appearances for Chievo. He then moved to Lazio, where he spent two successful campaigns, netting 23 times in 69 games.

This earned Corradi a lucrative three-year contract with Valencia, but his time in Spain was a miserable one and the striker went for his first loan-spell at Parma in 2005/06. After 10 goals for the Crociati, ex-Manchester City manager Stuart Pearce brought Corradi to the English Premiership but another wretched spell ensued as the forward scored just three times in 25 appearances.

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Van Der Sar: Ronaldo Should Stay

Edwin Van Der Sar believes that Cristiano Ronaldo should stay at Manchester United in order to fulfil his professional ambitions.

Edwin Van Der Sar

The 37-year-old goalkeeper is of the opinion that playing for United represents a unique opportunity for any player, as it gives rise to the opportunity of competing in global competition.

The Dutchman lauded the stadium and supporters of Manchester United and revealed that the playing staff at the club are tightly-knit.

In addition, Van Der Sar stated that Ronaldo should honour the contract he signed last summer.

Ronaldo has been constantly linked with a move away from the European champions all summer, and has only just stopped short of declaring his intention to leave.

Of the transfer saga, Van Der Sar said: "There have been a lot of things said and it is a very personal situation but we have a great team here, we play in a great stadium, with great fans and we have an opportunity to win more. It is not that the team is going backwards.

"We have other trophies to play for, like the Super Cup and Intercontinental Cup. You don't get the chance to play in those competitions very often because you need to win the Champions League in order to qualify.

"In my opinion, being at Manchester United is a great way to play at the highest level and win trophies with a team that is very closely knitted together.

"Cristiano also has a contract here. Sometimes things change but we have a good squad here without any question."

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Casillas: Ronaldo Is Talk Of The Town, But...

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas displayed his boredom with "Ronaldogate" in today's press conference as he sought to remind the media that there are other world-class players out there...

Casillas

The official Real Madrid website recorded the goalkeeper as being respectful but somewhat dismissive of the Ronaldo transfer saga.

He said, "I have heard about the possible signing of Cristiano Ronaldo because he makes every single front page, but I know nothing on the situation... As a football fan I believe he is a great player. He's proved it every season at Manchester United and everybody wants him to sign for Real Madrid.

"But there are great players all over the place: Ibrahimovic at Inter, Gerrard at Liverpool, Lampard at Chelsea... They're all very good, but Cristiano happens to be the talk of the town these days."

One such great player linked with Madrid is David Villa of Valencia.

"I know Villa well. He is a very good friend of mine and anything that's good for him makes me happy. But this matter has nothing to do with me nor the squad. We want to have a team that's strong in three competitions and the Club and the coach should work towards that," he said.

"The squad's good vibes? We all have to help out, and winning helps us too because we're all better, prettier and happier. But a true team truly sticks out in rough times. We had both very good and terrible moments last year and the team pulled through by uniting and using all of its weaponry. There was a time when this side had many great and famous players that didn't bring much to the team and we won no titles, but that's behind us now. We will welcome any player that comes to add something."

New Season, New Goals

Casillas was an integral member of last year's runaway league-winning side, but this time around he's set his sights even higher.

"We had a good season last year and won the league. We didn't get Real Madrid as far as it deserves in Europe, so we know we have to take it a step further this year. It will be difficult to dominate in the league again this season, but we'll try," he said.

"We will also work harder to reach the semifinals in the Champions League in order to have a greater chance of playing in the final. We've been losing in the quarterfinals for a long time now and we all think we should reach further.

"Do we need new players for that? I don't know. We'll see as the season unfolds. Every other team has made reinforcements during the summer and we've recovered players who were on loan last year.

"Robinho? He's not as chirpy as usual, but I don't see anything wrong with him. A Real Madrid player is always prone to be affected by news and rumours. I've known him for three years and he's a great player. We are all delighted with him. We welcome everyone who's willing to help the team. If not, they can stay home."

Personal Achievements

Having won Euro 2008 with Spain, Casilas was asked to measure up whether or not plaudits with the national side meant more to him than Madrid honours.

"Which is better? I have to say it's a very different feeling," he mused.

"Winning a Euro with Spain isn't the same as winning a Champions League with Real Madrid. A Euro takes place every four years and a Champions League every season, and Spain hadn't won an international title in 44 years. The feeling was probably similar to the one felt by the Real Madrid players who won the Club's seventh European Cup. The Euro is one of the most important titles in my career.

"Ballon d'Or? A long time ago, I said I thought it is very hard to win the Ballon d'Or because everything is subjective. Several players deserved it in the past but never won, so I don't even think about it. All I'm interested in is doing a good job for Real Madrid and take the team to the very top, where it deserves to be."

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Okaka Joins Bologna On Loan

Roma youngster Stefano Chuka Okaka has joined newly promoted Bologna on a season-long loan.

Roma youngster Stefano Chuka Okaka

Okaka, who was born in Umbria to Nigerian parents, is highly rated in the peninsula, and last week helped Italy Under-19s to second place in the European Championships.

The 18-year-old joined the Roma youth system from Cittadella in 2004, and spent last season on-loan at Serie B side Modena, scoring seven goals.

Having returned back to Roma, Okaka has now been loaned out again, this time to newly promoted Serie A side Bologna.

“I’m happy to be going to Bologna,” Okaka told Tuttomercatoweb.

“I hope that I can do well there. I didn’t expect to stay on at Roma. I’m happy to renew my contract and be sent on loan, and Bologna is the most pleasing destination.”

Bologna have been quite prominent in the summer transfer market so far, capturing the likes of Corinthians hardman Coelho, Lazio’s Gaby Mudingayi, and Sampdoria duo Cristian Zenoni and Sergio Volpi. They have a baptism of fire though on their return to the top-flight, as they travel to AC Milan for their fist game of the season.

“Serie A is like that,” Okaka added.

“Playing Juventus, Inter or Fiorentina would have been the same because the giants are all at the same level.”

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LA Galaxy Interested in Solano, Nothing on Buddle

Los Angeles director of soccer tells Goal.com where things stand with Nolberto Solano.

Nolberto Solano - West Ham United

Speculation about a possible move for Nolberto Solano to the Los Angeles Galaxy has swirled for a few weeks now. On Tuesday, Galaxy director of soccer confirmed for Goal.com that the club has had “exploratory talks” with the player’s representatives.

“There is definite interest from our staff,” Paul Bravo told Goal.com. He refused to go into any more detail about the probability or timing of a deal.

To bring the Peruvian winger, who played for West Ham last season, to the Home Depot Center, the Galaxy would most likely have to restructure their roster or lose a player. That player could be striker Edson Buddle. Last week at the All-Star game in Toronto, Goal.com learned that an unnamed Scandinavian club had put in a seven-figure offer for the 11-goal man. Later reports claimed that the club was Norwegian side Rosenborg.

However, Bravo refuted the Buddle transfer claims. “I’ve not heard anything,” he said. “There was a lot of talk about a lot of guys, but nothing has come across our desk about Edson.”

Losing Buddle would be a massive blow to the Galaxy’s chances of winning any hardware in 2008. He has transformed himself from a part-time bench player to an unexpected star this year, helping drive LA’s MLS-leading attack. Buddle, Landon Donovan, and David Beckham have led the way in an offense that has scored 36 goals in 18 games. The club currently sits third in the Western Conference.

But there are ominous clouds circling above LA these days. The side has not won a match since June 14 and are coming off a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of FC Dallas.

Whether the Galaxy are about to make any moves or not remains to be seen. Despite bringing in Argentina centerback Eduardo Dominguez, who debuted against Dallas on Sunday, they are still looking at new players. Gambian youth international Mandou Bojang is training with the club right now.

“He’s a big centerback,” Bravo said. “He played in all four World Cup games in Canada last summer, and has been capped by the senior team. We’re excited to take a look at him.”

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Roma Turn Towards Cisse

After failing in their attempt to sign Adrian Mutu, and with Julio Baptista also declaring his intention to stay at Real Madrid, French striker Djibril Cisse is the latest striker to appear on the transfer radar of Roma.

Djibril Cisse (Olympique de Marseille)

The Giallorossi’s desperate search for a top quality centre forward has now reached crisis point, with just over a month left until the end of the summer transfer window.

The club’s primary target had been Adrian Mutu, and the Romanian had appeared certain to join Roma when Fiorentina announced that they were considering an offer for the player.

However, the Viola then produced a sensational u-turn less the 24 hours later, rejecting Roma’s bid and declaring Mutu not for sale. This left the capital outfit in limbo, and they are still desperate to sign a top class attacker, having sold Amantino Mancini to Inter.

Real Madrid’s Julio Baptista had appeared to be a viable alternative, but yesterday ‘The Beast’ shut the door on a possible transfer by declaring his wish to stay at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Roma have also been linked with Ajax’s Klaas Jan-Huntelaar, but according to latest reports in Italy, Coach Luciano Spalletti is readying a raid for Marseille striker Djibril Cisse.

The 26-year-old has had a nightmare with injuries over the past few years, but last season he appeared to be getting back to some of his old levels, scoring 15 goals for his club, and even coming close to a call-up to Euro 2008.

Spalletti is said to be keen on Cisse due to his explosive pace, which would work well with Roma’s pass-and-move style of play.

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Benfica To Sell Makukula

Benfica have reportedly placed striker Ariza Makukula on the club's transfer list.

striker Ariza Makukula

The Congo-born hit-man signed for Benfica from Sevilla in the winter transfer window for a fee of €3,5 million with a €40 million release clause written into the deal.

However, he failed to hold down a regular spot during his first season at Estádio da Luz, which eventually left him out of Luiz Felipe Scolari's Euro 2008 plans.

Makukula has been included in Benfica's pre-season but has failed to impress coach Quique Flores, who considers the 27-year-old surplus to requirements.

Flores is unhappy with the number of striking options he has at his disposal and with Benfica reportedly close on signing Luís Garcia, he is ready to show Makukula the exit door.

It is further reported that Benfica are willing to listen to offers worth over €2 million for the striker, who has four international caps to his name.

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Kameni Shrugs Off Malaria Bout

Carlos Kameni has shrugged off concerns over his health after he contracted malaria and stated that it was a normal thing to happen in Cameroon.

Kameni Shrugs Off Malaria Bout

The Espanyol keeper is expected to make a full recovery after returning to Barcelona and admitted that he was never scared when doctors told him that he had the illness.

Now he wants to focus on building back up his strength in pre-season and competing with new signing Cristian Álvarez for a place in Tintin Márquez's side.

"It was only light malaria. I was not frightened because it is a normal illness in my country," Kameni told reporters.

"I took my tablets for this visit but even so it still managed to find a way through.

"I will work hard to regain my fitness and to help the team. If I am feeling fine then I will be able to go Manchester (on a pre-season tour), but if not I will continue coaching."

Kameni had been linked with a move away from Espanyol, but he now believes that he will stay with the club because he feels that he owes them for their loyalty.

"I have a contract until 2009 and I am not thinking about anything else in my mind other than to stay here," he continued.

"In all honesty, I am happy in Barcelona and things will be sorted out soon. But I think it will be hard for me to leave. I am grateful to Espanyol."

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It Is Ronaldo Or Nobody - Calderón

Ramón Calderón is set to upset Real Madrid coach Bernd Schuster after telling the club's directors that if Cristiano Ronaldo does not join then no signings will be made.

Ramón Calderón

Los Merengues' chief is prepared to stake his reputation on prising the Portuguese star away from Manchester United and that could cause friction with the German trainer, according to Marca.

Schuster has reportedly asked Calderón and sporting director Predrag Mijatovic to look into the possibility of signing other players instead and thought he had an agreement.

"Either Cristiano Ronaldo comes or nobody does, " the Spanish sports daily quoted him as stating.

Rafael Van der Vaart and David Villa are two players that the coach wants, but Madrid are unlikely to make a second move for the Dutchman or lodge a bid for the Spaniard now.

It will come as a huge blow because Schuster knows that he he needs two or three new faces to freshen up his squad, despite the fact that they won the title last term.

Calderón promised to sign Kaká and Cesc Fàbregas in his pre-election manifesto but failed to land either and will incur the wrath of the fans if he does sign Ronaldo.

Last summer the supporters made their feelings known during the introduction of Arjen Robben's presentation as they chanted to Kaká.

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Eto'o Signing Would Be Dangerous - Lyon

The special advisor to Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has warned that it would be dangerous to sign Samuel Eto’o from Barcelona, as the Cameroonian would destroy the French club’s pay structure.

Eto'o Signing Would Be Dangerous - Lyon

Bernard Lacombe delivered the warning in the wake of Lyon’s expressed interest in signing the Olympic Gold medallist from Barcelona.

On Monday, Eto’o’s agent, Joesp Maria Mesalles, announced that his client had been approached by OL.

It is thought that the 27-year-old would earn a sum in the region of €6million per season should he sign on at the Stade Gerland.

Such a deal, suggested Lacombe, would force Aulas to confront potential contractual issues from other players demanding parity with the new signing.

Eto’o is one of the transfer window’s hottest commodities, with clubs from Spain, England, Italy and Uzbekistan chasing his signature.

However, in the wake of Lacombe’s comments, it is unlikely that Eto’o will be playing with the Ligue 1 champions next season.

Lacombe told France Football: "Eto'o is just a dream. July 25 is not December 25, is it? We have to remain serious.

"A man like that earns 6millions euros a year. If we sign him, every other player at the club will go to the chairman's office to ask for a pay rise."

Lacombe confirmed that Diego Milito remains on the club’s radar; the Argentine has been linked with a move away from Real Zaragoza following their La Liga relegation.

He continued: "Indeed I talked about him with coach Claude Puel last week. But we won't rush. We have until August 31 to act."

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Totti Wants To End Career At Steaua Bucharest

Roma captain Francesco Totti has jokingly claimed that he wants to end his footballing career, at the age of 45, with Romanian outfit Steaua Bucharest.

Totti Wants To End Career At Steaua Bucharest

Symbolic Roma hero Totti made his debut for the club as a 16-year-old way back in 1993. More than 15 years later, Er Pupone is still the focal point of the side and a Roma team without Totti is almost unthinkable.

The 31-year-old is now the Giallorossi’s record appearance-maker and all-time highest goal-scorer, and he was one of the key members of the 2001 Scudetto success.

Totti has always been expected to see out the remainder of his club days at his beloved hometown club, yet it seems this may not necessarily be the case.

Roma recently took on Steaua Bucahrest in a friendly on Saturday night, losing 3-1 to the Romanian outfit. Totti, who did not play in the game due to injury, was offered a hero's welcome by the Romanian club’s supporters, and was so touched by their greetings that he even joked about ending his career with their club.

"Given the reception,” Totti told Steaua’s President George Becali, “when I am 45-years-old and ready to end my career, I could come here."

Steaua already have an Italian connection from the past, having been coached by current Catania boss Walter Zenga, but the chances of Totti, even at the age of 45, playing for them, seem rather slim.

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Villa Launching De La Red Raid?

According to press reports in Spain, Aston Villa have made a £9.5million move for Real Madrid’s Spanish international midfielder Ruben De la Red - which could spark a wave of competitive bids from other English Premier League sides.

Spanish international midfielder Ruben De la Red

Aston Villa manager Martin O’Neill has reactivated his interest in Ruben De la Red, a member of Spain‘s triumphant European Championship squad this summer, amid signs that Real Madrid could be ready to trade.

Although O’Neill has signed midfielder Steve Sidwell from Chelsea, he is still looking to strengthen his squad, and De la Red would fit the bill. He has also interested Arsenal, Liverpool, Spurs and Everton, and Villa’s move could trigger a scramble.

De la Red, 23, came through the ranks at the Bernabeu and made an impact last season on loan to Getafe under Michael Laudrup. He has still only made 10 Primera Liga appearances for Real - all as a substitute.

But his performances for Getafe last season dramatically raised his profile, and Real have called him back into their first team squad for next season. Nevertheless, he will be under intense competition for a starting role with Los Merengues, so a transfer may not be out of the question.

It is rumoured that as well as O’Neill, both Juande Ramos and Arsene Wenger are keen toi secure the Spaniard’s services - linking with Cesc Fabregas at Arsenal in place of the departed Mathieu Flamini, or adding strength, balance and technical ability to the Spurs midfield.

But if Villa press home their interest and secure De la Red, it would not only make the departure of Gareth Barry both easier to bear and more likely, it would also underline the seriousness of Villa’s challenge in the coming campaign.

De la Red himself has been complimentary about the English game. He is quoted as having said: “It’s always nice when your work is acknowledged by important English and Spanish clubs - it means you are making progress and that you’re on the right track.

“It helps me want to do even better. I haven’t shut the door to any club.

“I like the Premiership and how people live the matches over there.”

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Paloschi Was All Set For Torino - Cairo

Torino President Urbano Cairo has revealed that Alberto Paloschi was all set to move to the Granata on loan until Milan scrapped the deal at the eleventh hour.

Paloschi Was All Set For Torino - Cairo

The 18-year-old Paloschi, who burst onto the Italian scene last season, had been on the verge of moving to Torino on a season-long loan deal.

The transfer was all set to be completed yesterday, until a serious injury in training to Marco Borriello at the weekend plunged Milan into something of a forward crisis.

With Pippo Inzaghi also sidelined, and Ronaldinho and Alexandre Pato going to the Olympics, Cairo has revealed that Milan will not release Paloschi for the time being.

“We already had a formal agreement with Milan for Paloschi,” Cairo told SportItalia.

“When he was in the Czech Republic with the Under-19 side all that was missing was his signature.

“But yesterday Adriano Galliani called me after the injury to Marco Borriello to put the brakes on the deal. He said that they would rather keep hold of him, at least for the moment.

“We have an excellent relationship with Milan. In the next few days we will see whether we are still looking for Paloschi or another striker.”

Torino have already signed Italy Under-21 international Ignazio Abate in a co-ownership deal from Milan this summer.

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Mido Sets Sights On Top 10 Finish

Middlesbrough striker Mido is relishing the new Premier League campaign, and has set his side the target of breaking into the top ten teams in the division.

Mido New Style

The Egyptian was signed from Tottenham Hotspur last summer, but has failed to set the pulses racing at the Riverside so far.

He spent a good portion of his time at Boro on the treatment table last season, and took to the field only 12 times in the league, netting two strikes.

Among his problems were a cracked pubic bone and a hernia, and he also served a three-match ban for a high-boot on Gael Clichy at the Emirates.

Middlesbrough manager Gareth Southgate spent £12.7million on bringing Afonso Alves from Heerenveen in January, in an attempt to boost his side’s flagging attack.

However, Mido is confident that he can overcome his fitness and weight problems, and claim a starting berth next season.

Middlesbrough play Carlisle tonight, and Mido could well feature in his first pre-season fixture. He missed last week’s trip to Portugal due to visa complications.

He paid tribute to his striking colleagues and insisted that his side are not far away from qualifying for European competition.

He told the club’s official website: "Jeremie Aliadiere, Afonso Alves and Tuncay are all good strikers, they're different players but I'm sure I can fit with all of them as I have the experience and I can adapt myself to the way my partner is playing.

"It's the way the Premier League sides are now, all four of us offer something different and it will give different options and credits for the manager to play with.

"I want to help the side get into Europe. A top-10 finish would be a reasonable target for us and to achieve that would be great."

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