Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Kaká Backs Messi For Ballon d'Or

Kaká Backs Messi For Ballon d'Or
Kaká has revealed that he would like to see Lionel Messi win the Ballon d'Or ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo this year. He seemed to rule himself out of contention, but the AC Milan and Brazil playmaker vowed to be back to win the trophy in the future...

The Brazilian star vowed to return to challenge for personal honours after tipping the Barcelona forward to pick the France Football award ahead of Ronaldo.

Many have tipped the Manchester United playmaker after he helped the club win the title and the Champions League, but for ability alone, Kaká prefers Messi.

"Messi is a truly great player. Cristiano Ronaldo is also very good and deserves the away, but I want Leo to be my successor," he told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

"He has incredible ability and can control the ball superbly and that makes him one of the best players in the world.

"I think he is the sort of player that you would always want in your team.

"I am only talking about this year. My aim is to recover my form as quickly as possible and to try and win th trophy again in Paris and the FIFA World Player of the Year in Zürich.

"But for that to happen I have to be playing at a consistently good level for Milan."

Kaká then stated that he believes Ronaldinho's move from Barça to Milan will turn out to be a bargain for the Serie A side and explained that he enjoys playing alongside him.

"Without doubt he will be the best signing of the season in the Italian league. Our paths in life have been very different, but that does not mean that we cannot be friends," he continued.

"Above all, it does not mean that we cannot play together either."

Finally, Kaká moved to reiterate his desire to stay with Milan despite the annual rumours of him attracting the biggest clubs on the continent.

"First it was about Madrid now everyone is talking about going to England. That is how the market is, but I insist that I am not going anywhere, he explained.

"My relationship with everyone at the club is excellent and unless someone has a change of plans one day and decides to sell me, I will not be moving."

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I Want Milan Century This Term - Kaka

I Want Milan Century This Term - Kaka
Milan star Kaka is aiming high this season and he is hoping to reach his century of goals at the club as well as lift the Scudetto and UEFA Cup.....

The Rossoneri playmaker has been out for most of the summer following a knee ligament injury but he has made a steady recovery.

Kaka is likely to feature during Milan’s friendly later this evening against Swiss side Lugano and he has laid down his objectives this season.

“The Scudetto is our principal objective this year but it would also be great if we went all the way in the UEFA Cup too,” Kaka told Sky Sport Italia.

“The motivations will not be the same as the Champions League but it is a trophy which is missing from our cabinet.”

Kaka then spoke of his personal objectives and he is hoping to hit 21 goals for the Rossoneri this term in order to reach his century.

“I would like to reach a century of goals with the Milan jersey this season,” added the superstar.

“I am currently on 79 goals so far and I am hoping I can do it.”

Carlo Ancelotti’s men will be hoping for a morale boosting win this evening and then their attentions will quickly shift to the game against Genoa on the weekend.

Milan have been poor so far and they need to get into the full swing of things if they are to pursue their Scudetto objective.

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Zico Praises Pirlo, Slams Azzurri

Zico Praises Pirlo, Slams Azzurri
Brazilian legend Zico is full of praise for Italy and Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo, who will start for La Nazionale in Udine for the game against Georgia tonight. However, the former Udinese star has criticised the Azzurri.

Italy clash with Hector Cuper’s men in Group 8 of World Cup 2010 qualifying as they attempt to win three more points.

Zico has been following the Azzurri and he believes Pirlo is their best player and the midfielder’s presence at the Friuli this evening has reminded Il Gallinho of his playing days there. However, Zico was not too impressed with La Nazionale's last performance.

“I saw Italy’s game against Cyprus and I didn’t like the way Italy played at all,” said Zico.

“However, I did like Pirlo, I have always liked him and I am really happy that he will be playing in my old stadium and wearing my old number.”

Italy were woeful against the Cypriots in Lanarca and they were lucky to escape with a 2-1 win after Antonio Di Natale fired them to a narrow victory.

The former Brazilian international played for Udinese between 1983 and 1985. He scored 19 goals during the 1983/84 season, but he left the Bianconeri and went back to Brazil to play for Flamengo after a number of disputes with Diego Maradona and Michel Platini in Serie A.

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Zico Praises Pirlo, Slams Azzurri

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Miccoli: Roma Not The Same Without Totti

Miccoli: Roma Not The Same Without Totti
Palermo forward Fabrizio Miccoli is gearing up for this weekend’s clash against Roma, and he says that the capital outfit are not the same team without inspirational captain Francesco Totti.

Totti snapped his anterior cruciate ligament during a match against Livorno at the end of April, and had to undergo surgery.

The 31-year-old has since been working his way back to fitness, but he will not be ready to take to the field against Palermo on Saturday.

Palermo star Miccoli was asked in an interview with SKY Sports 24, just how Roma would cope without their skipper.

"Roma have many solutions but the captain is a fundamental figure,” Miccoli stated.

“As an opponent I prefer not to see him on the pitch because I know what he can do.”

Miccoli has been a thorn in Roma’s side in the past, and during the best season of his career, at Perugia in 2002/03, the pocket-dynamo scored in both league games against the Giallorossi.

"I remember well. We drew 2-2, and then Perugia won 1-0. My daughter Swami was born and I dedicated the winning goal to her,” he recalled.

“Should I now dedicate a goal to my son Diego, who was born recently? Hopefully, we will see on Saturday.”

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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Wenger To Join Milan Next Season

Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is being tipped as one of the candidates who may take over from Carlo Ancelotti at Milan next season, according to Il Giorno.
Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger is being tipped as one of the candidates who may take over from Carlo Ancelotti at Milan next season, according to Il Giorno. The Rossoneri have started poorly this term and this may well be Ancelotti’s final campaign at the helm.

The Rossoneri have started poorly this term and reports in Italy suggest that this may well be Ancelotti’s final campaign at the helm.

Il Giorno claims the Via Turati-based club have been looking at a number of possible replacements and Wenger is the latest name to have popped up on the Rossoneri’s managerial shortlist.

Marco Van Basten and Frank Rijkaard, who both played at the club, are also amongst the favourites.

Milan are looking for a fresh approach and a more youthful side and the Arsenal man may be the answer to their coaching questions.

The Milan-based newspaper has also reported that an agent on behalf of Massimo Moratti tried to hire the Frenchman in 2005, before the Inter president went for Roberto Mancini.

That same agent is now trying to make enquiries over Wenger’s availability. The Rossoneri have a good relationship with the Gunners following the arrival of Mathieu Flamini and Philippe Senderos and may offer the Arsenal coach ridiculous amounts of money in order to lure him to San Siro.

Ancelotti’s time is running out on the bench and he needs to begin improving the club’s fortunes if he is to keep his place.

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2008-09: Is This The Year Of The ‘Messiah’?

Lionel Messi - Barcelona-Real Madrid (AFP)

Lionel Messi admirer, Clark Whitney gives his take on why he thinks “The Messiah” will go from a young phenomenon to a world class footballing icon in the 2008/09 season....

It was a warm June afternoon in 2006. Having finished my classes for the day, I rushed to the nearest TV to tune in to the World Cup. Argentina were up against Serbia and Montenegro and the South American heavyweights were comfortably ahead 3-0. A foregone conclusion.

But there was good reason to keep watching. Shortly after tuning in, a substitution was made: Maxi Rodriguez was withdrawn for a young Lionel Messi, who was just six days shy of his 19th birthday.

Just four minutes into his entrance, the teenager was released down the left flank, creeping behind the defensive line. Having a nearly impossible angle wherefrom to shoot, he provided an inch-perfect pass across the face of goal. It evaded three defenders and the goalkeeper, but not Hernan Crespo, who tapped the ball into the net.

Then, in the 88th minute, Messi made a long run off the ball to receive a pass from Carlos Tevez just as he burst into the box. With just one defender to beat, Messi raced ahead and coolly knocked the ball past Dragoslav Jevric, capping a 6-0 rout. It was on this day that I became a Lionel Messi fan.

Lionel Messi’s talent is undeniable, although the extent of it is still heavily debated. Some hail him as the next Diego Maradona, while others think that he will never reach the heights of some of the great wide forwards, such as Maradona himself and, more recently, Cristiano Ronaldo. While I cannot compare Messi to the great Diego – I was just four years of age when Maradona left Napoli for Sevilla and entered the autumn of his career – I can compare Messi to Ronaldo.

I will be the first to admit that comparing players is generally a difficult and flawed process. After all, in spite of their having similar playing positions on the pitch, Messi and Ronaldo have different playing styles and talents.

Ronaldo is, marginally, the faster of the two, and is certainly stronger. He benefits greatly from the fast pace of the English game, as he is able to instantaneously transition from defence to lead a breakaway. However, he often wastes his strength and balance by falling when he could easily stay on his feet. As for his technical advantages, the Portuguese ace is far better in the air than Messi, and has a better shot. And yet, I have plenty of reason to believe that Argentine will emerge the better player at the end of this season.

To begin with, I doubt Ronaldo will be able to replicate last year’s success in the 2008-09 season. Missing the early stages of this season with injury has given him plenty of time to lose focus and brood over his failure to move to Real Madrid in the off-season. To add to this, he has received (and will continue to do so) every individual award imaginable for his performance last year. In addition, he also picked up winners’ medal for the Champions’ League and the Premiership with Manchester United. So, what else does he have to prove?

Plenty, if you ask me – he has never won anything with Portugal and his displays in important Premier League and Champions League matches have sometimes been far below his performance against low-level league teams. However, this knowledge will not weigh heavily on the mind of a self-assured, distracted, and discontented Ronaldo.

Messi, on the other hand, has everything to prove and, with Ronaldinho having left Barcelona, finally has his chance to do so. His dribbling is unmatched by anyone in the world and while he lacks Ronaldo’s flashiness, he is far more effective in one-on-one situations, and has the unique ability to take on several defenders at once. Moreover, his work rate exceeds that of Ronaldo’s by leaps and bounds.

The Argentine uses his diminutive stature to surprisingly good effect. Having a low centre of gravity, he is amazingly agile and has incredible balance. Unlike Ronaldo, Messi continues to play after contact with opposing defenders, using a combination of speed, balance, and ball control. Instead of trying to run behind a defensive line as Ronaldo does, the Argentine runs towards his opponents, cutting to the centre. In doing so, he puts himself in an ideal position for making plays. Instead of simply shooting (Ronaldo did manage 42 goals last year, but took 255 shots), the Barça winger creates openings and he does it with great efficiency.

While Ronaldo had only eight assists in 49 appearances, an injury-riddled Messi amassed 13 assists to complement his 16 goals in 38 appearances. He also initiated countless attacking moves that resulted in goals for his team but for which he was never credited with a direct assist.

Perhaps most importantly, Messi is a big-game player, whereas Ronaldo, as the argument goes, is not. Many are quick to hail the United ace for his 42 goals – a feat that is absolutely remarkable regardless of how they were scored – without considering the opponents against whom he scored. Ronaldo did indeed tally more strikes (eight) than any other in the Champions League, but, for example, he was surprisingly anonymous in both legs of the semi final against Barcelona, doing little more than missing an early penalty at the Camp Nou.

Against Chelsea, in perhaps the most important match of his life, the Portuguese again did little, but had a Gerd Mueller-like flash of brilliance and managed to score a great goal. Still, he could have cost his team the Champions’ League trophy with his missed penalty during the shoot-out if not for John Terry’s even less impressive effort moments later.

As for his outstanding total of 31 Premiership goals, 20 of them were scored against teams in the lower half of the table, and just three against the “big four”. Of course, the statistic of three goals in six matches is still very good, especially considering the fact that they were scored against top teams. However, we can’t say that Ronaldo truly led his team to any of their success last season. He helped very much, but in the important matches, he failed to perform to the best of his ability.

Messi, on the other hand, is a great leader and tends to play his best in important matches, although he still has much to prove. While Ronaldo failed to impress in either leg of the 2008 Champions League semifinals, the bullish Argentine was an omnipresent force at the Camp Nou and even put on a good showing at Old Trafford, although he could not save his team from a 1-0 defeat in the second leg.

Still, Messi has a record, albeit limited, of leadership and success. In 2005, he won the U-20 World Cup with Argentina, earning himself both the Golden Ball and Golden Boot awards. Last month, he led Argentina to the gold medal at the Olympics, providing a perfect assist to Angel Di Maria for the tournament winner. He also won the 2006 Champions League with Barcelona, although he only participated in 7 of the 13 matches during that competition. Ultimately, he still has much to prove for both club and country, which will provide plenty of motivation to the 21 year old.

Judging from his performances at the Olympics, it seems as though Messi is finally coming of age. That said, the young “Messiah” has plenty of room for growth and may not peak for another two to three, or even five years. And yet, barring injury, I still think he will win the 2009 Ballon D’Or.

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Essien Out For Months

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has been ruled out of action for
Having ruptured a knee ligament whilst on international duty with Ghana, Chelsea have confirmed that Michael Essien will be out for "several months". The midfield general is expected to undergo surgery next week...

The bullish midfielder was risked by Ghana despite already struggling with a knee complaint which has forced him out of Premiership action.

The gamble has backfired, though, with Essien limping out of the Tripoli clash between Ghana and Libya. The 25-year-old was caught by a rash challenge midway through the first half of a game which the Black Stars went on to lose 1-0.

Thus, Essien will be out for a number of months, missing domestic and continental action for his club. The next step is for the Blues star to undergo surgery, with a procedure hastily scheduled for next week.

Essien Out For Months

Chelsea confirmed Essien's set-back via their official website, stating: "He has ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament and will undergo an operation as soon as the majority of the swelling has subsided.

"We expect this to happen in a week's time. In the meantime, Michael has started rehab in the aqua therapy centre at Cobham which will improve the condition of the knee prior to surgery. A return to full fitness is not expected for several months."

Blues boss Luiz Felipe Scolari is likely to be livid, with Michael Ballack also confined to the Stamford Bridge treatment room at present.

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Fergie Surprised By Keane's Anfield Switch

Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has questioned Liverpool's decision to shell-out £20million on Robbie Keane over the summer. Ahead of this Sunday's clash between the two sides, Ferguson has already initiated the mind games...
Sir Alex Ferguson has kicked off the mind games ahead of this weekend's North West derby, labelling Liverpool's £20million capture of Robbie Keane a "big surprise"...

Keane moved to Anfield from Tottenham Hotspur in July for what would have been a Reds record fee had they not paid £21million for a certain Spaniard the previous year.

It was the first big-money deal of what was initially a slow summer on the transfer front, and the Irish striker was heralded as the final piece of Rafael Benitez's jigsaw puzzle.

The likes of Ian Rush, Liverpool's all-time leading goalscorer, declared that Keane's experience and nous would transform the Merseysiders into a team capable of winning the Premier League, let alone challenging for it.

The 28-year-old has endured a relatively slow start to his Reds career, however, failing to find the net at all to date.

And Ferguson has rubbed salt into the wound by hinting that the ex-Internazionale hitman was a curious signing.

He said in The Sun: “The big surprise was Liverpool paying £20million for Keane.”

The United boss's statement may seem utterly innocuous on the surface, but developments later in the summer give his a words a plethora of potential connotations.

For Keane's Mersey move was comfortably eclipsed in both financial and shock value, with Manchester City landing Robinho for £32million and Dimitar Berbatov arriving at Old Trafford for just under £31million.

Ferguson's insistence that Keane was a more surprising signing than Robinho would seem to suggest that he questions the price-tag or believes Benitez ought to have spent his cash on other areas of the pitch.

Indeed, press and public alike have begun asking similar questions of the Spanish tactician's summer spending. Liverpool's dearth of wide options was exposed against Aston Villa recently when Keane was forced to play on the left wing, while even in his regular position the former Leeds star causes problems.

One of the highlights of the Reds' 2007-08 campaign was the attacking partnership that formed between Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. The pair netted 51 goals between them and racked up numerous direct assists to become one of the most exciting tag-teams in Europe.

However, Keane playing his normal second-striker role could disrupt the rapport Gerrard and Torres have developed; and while Keane and Torres have shown glimpses of their potential together, it is yet to produce anything like what the skipper and El Nino did last season.

That is one interpretation of Ferguson's words, in any case. Whether Benitez and Keane reach the same conclusion remains to be seen, but they may prefer to do their talking during Saturday's clash at Anfield.

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Austria - France 3-1 World Cup 2010 Qualifiers Highlights All Goals

French captain and forward Thierry Henry reacts after conceding a goal during the WC 2010 qualifying football match France vs Austria on September 6, 2008 at Ernst-Happel stadium in Vienna. France was defeated 1-3. AFP PHOTO / FRANCK /FIFE

Not everyone loves Raymond.He managed to keep his job despite a disastrous Euro 2008.France got clobbered 3-1 in Group 7 by lowly Austria -placed 101st in the Fifa rankings. Rumours: The French federation have given Domenech a target of at least five points from the first three qualifiers.The next target Domenech has lined up in his sights is Serbia.And he's hoping his shooters will be on target.

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Robinho checks in on a helicopter....needs counselling

Robinho checks in on a helicopter....needs counselling

Robinho turned up for training with Brazil in a helicopter on Wednesday....
Later he scored one out of the three goals that Brazil would eventually beat Chile in their world cup qualifier by....
Luis Fabiano scored the other two....
Ronaldinho missed a penalty....
Dunga got a bit of space in which to breathe freely.....
Video .....

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Play Giovinco!

Giovinco Needs To Play Regularly – Agent
The agent of young starlet Sebastian Giovinco has warned Juventus that his client needs to play regularly, and that this is a serious issue holding up contract negotiations. Giovinco's future at the club has been called into question in recent weeks.

Giovinco is regarded as one of Europe’s best young talents, but his future at Juventus has been called into question due to problems over the renewal of his contract.

The major sticking point has been Juve’s refusal to meet the 21-year-old’s €1m a year salary demands. However, Giovinco’s agent Andrea D’Amico has also now declared that his client needs to be playing more first team football after he was left on the bench for the entirety of the first Serie A game of the season against Fiorentina.

"He needs to play with some continuity, there is no doubt," D'Amico told Radio Kiss Kiss.

“This is a question in the contract that is still under negotiation. It is not just a problem of figures, but also of certainty about the future. Giovinco is young but he is already desperate to play as many matches as possible."

Arsenal have been heavily linked with making a January transfer bid for Giovinco, leading to fears among fans that the player could be sold.

However, D’Amico insists that despite the contract uncertainty, Juventus believe in the player, and that this feeling is reciprocal.

“Juventus believe in him and vice versa,” he stated.

“The project of the Bianconeri club is ambitious and Sebastian knows that he has many champions in front of him. It will be up to [coach] Claudio Ranieri to manage his technical potential.”

Giovinco will be hoping that he is offered some time on the pitch when Juventus take on Udinese this weekend in Turin.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

Zidane: Ronaldo Is World's Best

Zidane: Ronaldo Is World's Best
French legend Zinedine Zidane has hailed the talent of Manchester United's number 7 Cristiano Ronaldo...

Holder of the world's largest transfer fee Zinedine Zidane picked up plentiful individual awards during his playing days and believes Cristiano Ronaldo is set to do the same.

Zidane, who was awarded the Fifa World Player of the Year on three separate occasions, has backed Ronaldo to pick up the first of his this year for his 42-goal return last season.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is in a good position to win it," Zidane is quoted by Setanta Sports as saying.

"Then, it’s a question of feeling. When I was playing, some preferred Zidane to Ronaldo and vice-versa... As far as I’m concerned, Cristiano Ronaldo has an edge regarding the whole season," he concluded.

Ronaldo was recently rewarded with the Uefa Player of the Year award for his performances in last season's Champions League. He also scored the opening goal in the European final in Moscow.

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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Gerrard & Essien Join City List

Gerrard & Essien Join City List
According to News of the World, Manchester City's new owners are targeting Steven Gerrard and Michael Essien among their next batch of super-swoops...

City manager Mark Hughes has been given free reign in the transfer market by the Abu Dhabi United Group (ADUG), who took control of the club a week ago.

The Sky Blues' revitalised ambitions were clearly demonstrated when they landed Robinho in an English record £32million deal from Real Madrid.

The likes of Ronaldinho, Fernando Torres, Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo have since been linked with mega-moves to Eastlands, and ADUG have made no secret of their desire to build the very best team on the planet.

However, the Arab owners have also stressed that all transfer decisions will lie with the manager.

Hughes was told to draw up a January wish-list when he met his new bosses earlier in the week, and the Welshman has made Gerrard and Essien his top targets.

A City insider told News of the World: “Mark knows money is no object but he also wants to bring in the kind of players who will fit in with his plans, not just spend massive money for the sake of it.

“Gerrard and Essien in the same midfield would be incredible.

“They would fit together perfectly and wouldn’t have to take time adapting to the English game in the same way as any big foreign name.”

The capture of either Gerrard or Essien, let alone both, would rock the Premier League. Both are among the very finest midfielders in the game and would no doubt have a huge impact at City.

Gerrard in particular would be a surprise signing. For despite flirting with a move to Chelsea a few years ago, the 28-year-old is seen as untouchable at Anfield - the skipper, the local lad, the childhood fan who represents the heart of the club.

But Hughes is confident of landing both players during the winter window, as he knows there are no restraints where funds are concerned.

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Ashley Denied Keegan Henry, Beckham And Lampard

Ashley Denied Keegan Henry, Beckham And Lampard
According to reports in The Sun, former Newcastle United boss Kevin Keegan, who resigned on Thursday, wanted to bring in Thierry Henry, David Beckham and Frank Lampard, but the plea was rejected by club owner Mike Ashley.

Keegan reportedly wanted close to a £200m warchest in order to sign the three stars and tie them to contracts with the club but Ashley refused to give him the money, saying that he wanted the club to produce stars rather than buy them.

According to a source close to the North East Club Ashley refused point blank at Keegan's request, and helped make Keegan's decision to resign two days ago, as Keegan felt he had not received the financial backing of the board.

Despite the restrictions on money Keegan was able to bring in Fabricio Coloccini and Xisco from Deportivo La Coruna, and Jonas Gutierrez from Real Mallorca and Ignacio Gonzalez on loan from Villarreal. This cost an estimated combined fee of £20.3m, which in comparison to other Premier League clubs was a small total.

The Newcastle insider told The Sun: "These were the players Keegan really wanted and he didn't seem to care about how much they would cost... But the reaction of the board was 'no chance — we're not spending that sort of money on players like these."

"As far as Mr. Ashley was concerned, he didn't want players that would cost so much. He wanted Keegan to find unknown youngsters who would become the next Beckham and Lampard of their generation."

Newcastle are continuing their search for a new manager, but Ashley's future with the club is far from certain. The fans have made it clear that they do not want Ashley running the club, and the sale of the club to a foreign bidder is looking more and more likely.

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Nike:What Joe Cole knows

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