Chelsea´s Ben Haim joins Manchester City

Israel international defender Tal Ben Haim has joined Manchester City from English Premier League rivals Chelsea, according to the buying club's website on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old will arrive at City on a four-year deal for an undisclosed fee – the second signing since Mark Hughes took over as manager.

It is the Israel international centre-back's second high-profile switch in just over a year, after he moved to Stamford Bridge on a free transfer from Bolton Wanderers in June 2007.

His move is still subject to a work permit although it is expected he will receive one given his regular appearances for Israel, which included two matches against England during the Euro 2008 qualifiers.

Ben Haim will now link up with Brazilian striker Jo, who joined the Eastlands club earlier this month for an estimated 19 million euros.

Although a Bolton regular, Ben Haim started just 13 times at Chelsea where he was unable to displace club captain John Terry and Ricardo Carvalho at the heart of the Blues' defence.

He faces another tough fight for first-team football with City captain Richard Dunne and rising England star Micah Richards, the current central defensive pairing at the club.

However, Ben Haim can also play at full-back. Hughes, speaking Tuesday, admitted City needed cover at the back. “With so many games to play this season it is important to get the balance right.

“Last season the team was weakened when Micah Richards and Richard Dunne were not in it. We are trying to address that.”

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Fire lands McBride from Toronto in MLS deal

Toronto FC traded forward Brian McBride, a former standout for England's Fulham, to the Chicago Fire on Wednesday for forward Chad Barrett and a 2009 first-round Major League Soccer Draft pick.

The Fire hope McBride, 36, can help boost Chicago's anemic attack. The Fire, 7-5-5, has 24 goals this year, with 23-year-old Barrett the top point producer with five goals. He had seven in 2007 as the Fire reached the MLS semi-finals.

US veteran McBride spent the past 4 1/2 seasons with Fulham in the English Premiership, netting 40 goals in 150 appearances for the West London side before announcing in May he was leaving to play nearer his American home.

McBride spent several seasons with the Columbus Crew, claiming MLS All-Star honors five times befire joining Fulham in January of 2004.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Spurs set to announce Bentley signing

Tottenham Hotspur are set to announce the signing of England midfielder David Bentley from Premier League rivals Blackburn Rovers after calling a press conference for Thursday.

Bentley was due to complete a medical late Wednesday before completing a move estimated at 17 million pounds (34 million dollars).

Tottenham's arch-rivals Arsenal, the club where Bentley made is name, are set to receive a cut of the deal as part of the agreement which saw the now 23-year-old move to Rovers in 2006 after a loan spell.

Should he pass the medical, Bentley is set to join his new team-mates in the Netherlands where Spurs are playing in a pre-season tournament in Rotterdam this weekend.

Tottenham manager Juande Ramos is also reported to be interested in signing Russia forward Andrei Arshavin, one of the starts of Euro 2008, following Republic of Ireland striker Robbie Keane's departure for Liverpool earlier this week, in a move worth more than 20 million pounds (40 million dollars).

But midfielder Jermaine Jenas and centre-back Michael Dawson are both staying at White Hart Lane after signing one-year contract extensions which are set to keep them with north London side Spurs until 2013.

Meanwhile Tottenham have sold 28-year-old French midfielder Steed Malbranque to fellow top flight side Sunderland on a four-year contract. No transfer fee was revealed.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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“Brazil favorites to win Gold at Olympics”

Brazil have been dubbed favorites to win the upcoming Olympic Games, by visitors of FIFA’s official website. Argentina come in second.

Readers were given six options to choose from: Argentina, Brazil, Cote d’Ivoire, Italy, the Netherlands or ‘Other’.

With Brazil taking almost 37 percent of the votes, pressure mounts on coach Dunga who is to lead the squad to its first ever Olympic Golden Medal.

The Argentinians take the second place in the poll with 30 percent, but that amount may increase a little as Lionel Messi will be making his appearance in China, as clarified by FIFA earlier today.

Although ‘Other’ came in third with 14 percent of the votes, it is hard to say whether any of the remaining eleven participants could have earned enough votes to beat the Netherlands. The European Champions took seven percent.

Italy trail the Dutch by less than a percent and with four percent, most readers consider an Ivorian victory at the Olympics rather unlikely.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Goalless result for CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg

The battle between two troubles UEFA Cup winners, CSKA Moscow and Zenit St Petersburg, ended with a scoreless result on Thursday.

Zenit in particular have been going through a bad phase lately, but CSKA’s performance hasn’t been particularly up to par either.

In Moscow, both sides were looking to make an end to their negative spell but neither managed to do so.

Things got worse for both teams as red cards brought the two sides down to ten players.

Krizanac was booked just before half time, and received a second yellow card three minutes into the second half. CSKA’s Dzhagoev got his second booking with twelve minutes to go.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Real coach complains of being left in dark over transfers

Real Madrid's German coach Bernd Schuster hit out Wednesday at the Spanish club's managers as he complained that he was being kept in the dark over possible new recruits.

“I am the last to find out anything. I would love to know more. I am pleased because the president has come to inform me of what is going on,” he told reporters at the club's training camp in Austria, Spanish media reported.

“I am not that bothered as I am used to be being more or less the last to find things out. Everyone else seems to know things before me,” he added when asked about the possible arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United.

Real Madrid president Ramon Calderon, who arrived at Real's Austrian training camp on Wednesday, said earlier in an interview published in sport daily AS that he is still willing to splash out on the Portuguese star.

Calderon said the Spanish champions were close to signing Dutch midfielder Rafael van der Vaart from Hamburg, as desired by Schuster, but were not interested in recruiting Spain striker David Villa from Valencia.

Real have long been linked with a big money move for Ronaldo, with 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.

Schuster has hoped to add several new faces to his squad and has reportedly blamed the focus on efforts to recruit Ronaldo for the lack of new signings so far.

Real Madrid's arch-rivals Barcelona meanwhile have dished out over 80 million euros on new players.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Bayern´s Ribery set for second ankle operation

Bayern Munich's French midfielder Franck Ribery is set to have a second ankle operation on Friday, according to reports here.

German sports agency SID report the 25-year-old, who damaged ankle ligaments in last month's Euro 2008, will have a metal screw removed from his left ankle in a scheduled operation in Munich on Friday.

Ribery, who is on crutches and in a plaster cast, is expected to be fit for the middle of September and will miss the defending champions' start to the season on August 15 at home to Hamburg.

Bayern flew out to Japan on Tuesday for a friendly game against Urawa Red Diamonds minus injury concerns Italian Luca Toni and German duo Tim Borowski and Hans Jorg Butt.

The trio, who stayed behind for treatment, is doubtful for Bayern's German Cup tie at Erfurt on August 10, the club's website said Wednesday.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Bremen, Schalke to fight FIFA´s Olympic ruling

Werder Bremen and Schalke 04 will fight to bring their Olympic players back to Germany after FIFA on Wednesday ruled all clubs must allow eligible players to attend next month's Beijing Games.

FIFA's decision means Barcelona star Lionel Messi, 21, can compete for Argentina, while Werder Bremen must release Diego, 23, to play for Brazil alongside Schalke 04's Rafinha, 22.

Both Brazilians are in China preparing for the Olympics, but their clubs want them to return to Germany immediately.

The three clubs had challenged football's global governing body on the grounds that the Olympic Games were not included on the international match calendar, and the players are needed for the start of the season in August.

Before Wednesday's decision, the three teams had indicated they would appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) if FIFA ruled against them.

The complaint documents were submitted by both Schalke and Werder to the CAS on July 25 and a decision is expected early next week in Beijing where an ad-hoc court will meet.

On Wednesday, Tunisian judge Slim Aloulou, who serves on FIFA's player status committee, ruled the release of players aged 23 and under was “mandatory for all clubs”.

Schalke 04 manager Andreas Mueller said he was not suprised by FIFA's ruling.

“We expected the decision to follow what FIFA had previously said,” Mueller told German sports agency SID.

“It would have been very surprising if the judge had left FIFA president Sepp Blatter out in the rain.

“We want to put our arguments to the CAS court next week.”

After hearing the FIFA ruling, Werder Bremen allowed Serbia's Dusko Tosic to fly to Beijing but will take legal advice on their options.

“We will let the ruling be examined by our lawyer and then will decide which course of action to take,” Bremen's director of sport Klaus Allofs told German sports agency SID.

“Whether withdrawing the complaint is an option, we will see.”

Both Barcelona and Schalke have Champions League qualifiers during the Olympics, which ends on August 24, while Bremen want Diego for the start of the Bundesliga on August 15.

But FIFA's ruling insists the players involved must have their chance to compete at an Olympics.

“Taking part in the Olympic Games is a unique opportunity for all athletes of any sporting discipline,” FIFA said in a statement.

“It would not be justifiable to prevent any player younger than 23 from participating in such an event if his representative team had qualified.”

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Barry staying at Villa

Aston Villa captain Gareth Barry is to stay with the Midlands club after repeated approaches from Premier League rivals Liverpool.

Barry appeared to have his heart set on a move to Anfield, where he would have joined up with fellow England midfielder Steven Gerrard.

But Villa said Wednesday the 27-year-old would be staying with the Birmingham side after Liverpool failed to reach a deadline they’d imposed to meet their 18 million pounds (36 million dollars) for the player.

“This evening, Aston Villa can announce that Gareth Barry will be staying with the club following the interest from Liverpool over recent months,” the club said in a statement.

“During discussions in the past few days, a final deadline to conclude this episode was set that all parties were aware of and agreed to. This deadline has now passed and so Gareth will remain with Villa.”

Barry’s despair to play Champions League appeared to be a key reason for his desire to leave after a decade at Villa Park.

But now manager Martin O’Neill will hope he can achieve that goal with Villa, who finished sixth, two places outside the Champions League qualifying spots on offer to English clubs, in the Premier League last season.

O’Neill was angry with Anfield counterpart Rafael Benitez for making details of Liverpool’s interest in Barry public and made it clear recently that the uncertainty over his player’s position could not continue indefinitely, effectively challenging the Reds to ‘put up or shut up’.

But while Benitez was unable to meet Villa’s valuation, he did sign striker Robbie Keane from Tottenham this week for a fee of more than 20 million pounds (40 million dollars), a clear indication of his priorities.

It had seemed as if Barry had done permanent damage to his relationship with O’Neill when, in an interview with the News of the World in June, he said the Villa boss was more interested in commentating on Euro 2008 for the BBC than retaining his club captain.

O’Neill promptly banned Barry from pre-season training and the player was booed by Villa fans when he played in a friendly against Walsall last week.

But he got a better reception when he came on as a substitute in Saturday’s Intertoto Cup tie with Odense at Villa Park.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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Tal Ben Haim leaves Stamford Bridge for Eastlands

Israeli and Chelsea defender Tal Ben Haim has left Chelsea for Manchester City.

Former Bolton Wanderers and Chelsea star has joined Manchester City for an undisclosed fee.

The transfer is subject to him being able to obtain a work permit.

Wed 30 July, 2008
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