Javi says he is returning to Real Madrid as a better player

Javi Garcia said Thursday that he is returning to Spanish champions Real Madrid after one season at Osasuna as a much improved player.

“I stay put in my position, as opposed to running around as much as I did when I first started playing at the age of 17. That is what I have learned, to maintain my position and play more with my head,” he told the club’s web site.

“I’ve mostly played as a central midfielder, but I was positioned as centreback several times at Osasuna. I’ve adapted well to that position and feel very comfortable,” the 21-year-old added.

Javi, a product of Real Madrid’s youth squad, said he would like to secure a regular place in the club’s starting line-up this time around.

“I had the chance to play in some games when I was here last time, but a player needs to enjoy some continuity and know that the coach counts on him even when a game doesn’t turn out well,” he said.

“I feel ready to play on this team and to have some continuity. I’m here to make decisions hard for the coach,” he added.

Javi moved to Pamplona-based Osasuna at the end of last season on a four-year contract that included a four-million-euro buy-back clause which Real Madrid decided to exercise in April.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Valencia want to keep Spanish stars Villa and Silva

Valencia vice-president Fernando Gomez said Thursday that the financially troubled Spanish club would do everything it can to keep their star players David Villa and David Silva.

“That is our priority. We have officially communicated to their representatives that this is our desire,” he told news radio Cadena Ser.

“Our intention is to ensure that they stay. I think next week we will be able to talk about this with more details,” he added.

Spanish media have reported that the club was considering selling one or both Spanish internationals in order to balance its books.

Gomez confirmed that the Spanish side had received a “reasonable” offer from Italian side Roma for Silva but had ruled it out.

Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid are among the other sides reportedly interested in Silva and Villa, the top scorer at Euro 2008 which was won by Spain.

Valencia are in financial trouble due to a poor season, a huge payoff to their previous coach and the fact that they failed to make the lucrative Champions League for next season.

The club won the Spanish league in 2002 and 2004 but finished in 10th place last season in La Liga, 34 points behind the winners Real Madrid but will take part in the UEFA Cup next season since they won the Spanish Cup.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Pepe finds inspiration in Armstrong cancer battle book

Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Pepe said Thursday that he has been inspired by reading seven-time tour de France winner Lance Armstrong's best-selling book on his struggles with cancer.

“My wife gave me Lance Armstrong's biography, which tells what he went through to overcome a serious illness, his will power,” he said in an interview published on the Spanish champions' web site.

“I really enjoyed it because it talks about surmounting problems and it shows that we must always fight to reach our goals,” he added.

Armstrong wrote “It's Not About the Bike” about his 1996 successful battle with testicular cancer after he won the 1999 Tour de France as a long-shot surprise.

Pepe, 25, joined Real Madrid in July 2007 from Portuguese side FC Porto on a five-year contract.

The Brazilian-born player also praised Manchester United's Portuguese striker Cristiano Roanldo who has been linked to a move to Real Madrid, calling him “an extraordinary person.

“I have to make it clear that he is one of the best persons in football. He is always willing to help, is aware of what you need. That is very important,” he added.

Real have long been tipped to make a big money move for Ronaldo, with Spanish media reports suggesting the price tag could be 85 million euros (134 million US dollars) but Manchester have made it clear they will not let the 23-year-old go.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Polish league to start on August 8th

The Polish FA and Ekstraklasa clubs agreed to extend the league to 18 teams.

The Polish Football Association (PZPN) and league governing body Ekstraklasa S.A. reached an agreement to extend the top league by two teams in connection with earlier decisions of the Polish Olympic Committee’s Arbitration Tribunal. Clubs accused of match-fixing, Korona Kielce and Zaglebie Lubin, appealed against the decision on relegation. Yet the decision is postponed to August 6th.

Initially the league was supposed to start last weekend, but since it was not sure which clubs are eligible to play, the first two match days had been suspended. Today’s agreement opens the door to the delayed start with the teams in question, although it hasn’t been decided who will pay for the increased costs: Supposedly about 20 million Polish zloty (6,5 million euros).

Regardless of the Tribunal’s future verdict the competition will be resumed on August 8th, as confirmed by PZPN vice-president Eugeniusz Kolator.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Platini appeals for backing for Euro 2012

UEFA President Michel Platini has appealed to the international community to support Poland and Ukraine in the organising of Euro 2012.

Fears have abounded that the former communist country would be unable to stage such an event.

According to reports emanating out of Ukraine there have been delays in the rebuilding of stadiums, the upgrading of transportation networks including airports as well as the upgrading of hotels.

Platini have told the Ukrainian football authorities that progress has to be made within the next few months otherwise Italy may have to be asked instead.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Arshavin could join Tottenham Hotspur soon

Zenit St Petersburg have told Tottenham Hotspur to make a bid of at least ₤20 million for their star Russian forward Andrei Arshavin.

However the asking price may be a bit too steep but despite that talks are still progressing and if successful, the deal could be done and dusted in a matter of a few days.

According to reports from the Russian media Arshavin is keen to become a player at White Hart Lane.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Barton charged by FA over Man City clash

Controversial footballer Joey Barton was charged Thursday by the Football Association (FA) with violent conduct.

The charge relates to an assault by the Newcastle United midfielder on his then Manchester City team-mate Ousmane Dabo at City's Carrington training ground on May 1, 2007.

Barton, 25, was given a four-month prison sentence, suspended for two years, on July 1 after admitting assault occasioning actual bodily harm on Dabo.

This FA charge arises from the hearing at Manchester Crown Court, with the governing body now having received the documentation it wanted from that case.

Barton has until August 13 to respond to the charge.

He was released from prison Monday after serving 74 days of a six-month sentence for assault following an incident in his native Liverpool last year.

However, Newcastle and especially manager Kevin Keegan, have said they intend to keep the player at the club and help him rebuild his career.

There is no maximum sentence which could be levied on Barton although, given the severity of the attack on Dabo, a long ban and heavy fine could be applied if an independent disciplinary commission finds him guily of the charge.

In a statement, Newcastle made it clear they were unhappy with the length of time it had taken the FA to charge Barton.

“The club has sought clarification from the Football Association as to why this decision has been reached now, given the incident occurred nearly 15 months ago.

“Joey will be requesting a personal hearing in relation to the charge and the club will be making no further comment on the matter at this time.”

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Cameroon´s Meyong to Braga

Top flight Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga on Thursday said they had signed Cameroon international striker Albert Meyong Ze from Spain’s Levante on a two-year contract.

“Meyong has signed a contract to the end of the 2009/2010 season,” Braga announced on their website.

Meyong, 27, caused a stir last season in playing in Portugal for Belenenses after already playing for both Levante and Albacete in Spain whereas FIFA regulations stipulated that a player may only appear for two clubs in a single season, even if he may be on the books of three.

Belenenses lost six points as a result after Portugal’s Naval lodged a complaint.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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Real sell Soldado to Getafe

Striker Roberto Soldado has left Real Madrid for top flight Madrid suburbs side Getafe, who unveiled him officially on Thursday.

Soldado, 22, has signed a four-year deal with Getafe paying out four million euros for his services.

Soldado failed to break through in the Real first team last season after returning from a loan period with Osasuna.

Thu 31 July, 2008
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We´ll be ready for CL preliminaries, says Prandelli

Fiorentina coach Cesare Prandelli was upbeat despite watching his side out-played by Barcelona in a 3-1 friendly defeat.

Fiorentina, who finished fourth in Serie A last season, begin this campaign in two weeks with the final preliminary round of the Champions League.

And after goals from Carles Puyol, Jeffren Suarez and Bojan Krkic saw Barca ease to a comfortable victory on Wednesday night, Prandelli admitted his team weren't yet in top physical condition.

“We knew we were up against a strong team, one in which you can already see the imprint of (new Barca boss Pep) Guardiola,” said Prandelli.

“We're still not in our best physical condition but we will be ready for the preliminaries, matches which we're really looking forward to.”

Barca were in control from start to finish of this match with Olympics-bound Argentina magician Lionel Messi creating the first goal for Puyol, courtesy of a helping hand from former Manchester United centre-half Gerard Pique.

Two minutes after the break Jeffren doubled the visitors' advantage but Giampaolo Pazzini pulled one back on 69 minutes only for Bojan to restore the two-goal cushion two minutes later.

Pazzini started the game on the bench with new forward signing Alberto Gilardino getting the nod in the lone striking role.

But Pazzini is not prepared to accept being only a replacement.

“I tried to do my best and I was really happy to score,” he said. “I don't feel like the replacement for anyone.

“We all know that Gilardino is a champion but we're both playing for the starting jersey.”

Thu 31 July, 2008
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