Melo signs contract extension, commits to La Viola

Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo has pledged his immediate future to Fiorentina by signing a one-year contract extension which ties him to La Viola until the summer of 2013.

The 25-year-old has been linked with a summer exit from Florence, with Arsenal and Barcelona both rumoured to be showing an interest in the holding midfielder.

However, a statement on the club’s official website confirmed the deal:

“Fiorentina’s director of sport, Pantaleo Corvino, today met with the agent of La Viola central midfielder Felipe Melo in Milan.”

“On this occasion, details of an agreement for the extension of Melo’s contract until 2013 with a buyout clause were agreed.”

Melo moved to Italy a year ago, having previously played in Spain with Almeria, Racing Santander and Real Mallorca.

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Maldini snubbed the Blues, reveals Ancelotti

Carlo Ancelotti has revealed Paolo Maldini turned down an offer to become part of his coaching staff at Chelsea.

Ancelotti joined the London club from AC Milan last month and had hoped Maldini would follow him to Stamford Bridge after hanging up his boots at the end of the season.

”I made that proposal to him,” said Ancelotti in an interview with Radio Deejay. ”But he wanted to take time off and after so many years playing, it’s understandable.

”But if I could have taken anyone to Chelsea, it would have been Maldini.’

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Mears signs up for Burnley

English Premier League newcomers Burnley have signed Derby defender Tyrone Mears, the Lancashire club announced on Tuesday.

The 26-year-old has agreed to a three-year deal joining Burnley after a spell on loan to Marseille last season.

“We are delighted to get Tyrone,” Clarets boss Owen Coyle told the club’s website.

“He is a player with real pace and we have been looking for that in the full-back areas. He is hungry, still relatively young and desperate to do well.”

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Tough taskmaster van Gaal starts work on Bayern

Dutch coach Louis van Gaal begins his tenure in charge of German giants Bayern Munich on Wednesday with demands for more silverware and Champions League glory never far from his ears.

The last time Bundesliga big-boys Bayern lifted Europe’s top domestic honour was in 2001, but the Germans have consistently failed to reach the last four of the tournament ever since.

Ex-Germany coach Jurgen Klinsmann was sacked by Bayern in April after just ten months in charge following a string of poor results, so van Gaal arrives from Dutch champions AZ Alkmaar knowing he does not have the luxury of time.

Bayern look to have temporarily fought off interest from Manchester United, Barcelona, Real Madrid and Chelsea for French play-maker Franck Ribery, but only a good Champions League campaign this season will keep the wolves away.

Ribery will report with the rest of the squad for training on Wednesday, but has made no secret he wants European success and van Gaal plans to have him as the chief play-maker in his side when the Bundesliga starts on August 7.

“We want to build around Ribery who Louis van Gaal absolutely wants under his command,” said Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge with Munich bidding for their 22nd Bundesliga crown after Wolfsburg won last season’s title.

Van Gaal could not have wished for an easier opening to the season with Bayern set to face SpVgg Neckarelz, the lowest ranked side in the competition, in the first round of the German Cup which takes place on the first weekend in August.

The sixth division side will be the first serious opponents for van Gaal and give him the luxury of looking at combinations before the league begins.

But while Klinsmann tried – and failed – to bring innovative ideas and more dynamic football to Munich, van Gaal is expected to bring fierce discipline and he has to make a few decisions.

The goalkeeper issue has to be resolved after Michael Rensing, tipped to be Oliver Kahn’s replacement after the ex-Germany captain retired, lost his place to veteran Hans-Joerg Butt.

And van Gaal has plenty of selection in attack with last season’s first-choice pairing Miroslav Klose and Luca Toni facing tough competition from new signings Mario Gomez, Ivica Olic and promising youngster Thomas Mueller.

Toni struggled for form last season and has said he must play regular football this season if he is to win a place for Italy at next year’s World Cup.

With Germany veteran Klose – the top-scorer at the last World Cup – likely to start alongside rising star Gomez, Toni will have to work hard to guarantee himself first-team football next season.

“I am lucky, I earn a lot and I am not a slave to my salary,” Toni told Italian television earlier this week hinting he might be prepared to leave for a club where he would be paid a smaller salary.

Whoever van Gaal picks in his team, the Dutchman will be expected to do better than last season when Bayern finished second in the Bundesliga and were dumped out of the Champions League by eventual-champions Barcelona.

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Gudjohnsen set for a move from Barca, says father

Eidur Gudjohnsen’s father believes that the forward will leave Barcelona this summer.

The former Chelsea star’s father Arnor, who also represents the striker, claims his son’s days at the Nou Camp are over, and he is weighing up his options.

It is suggested three Premier League clubs have made their intentions known, although they face competition from other European sides.

“I think that Eidur will leave Barcelona, but I am not sure where he will end up playing next,” Arnor Gudjohnsen is quoted as saying by Sport.

“There are many possibilities open to him and apart from Aston Villa, Fulham and Everton, there are also clubs in other European countries that want him.”

The 30-year-old has previously hinted at an interest in joining former Chelsea team-mate Gianfranco Zola at West Ham, but an official approach has not yet been made by the Hammers.

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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France to undergo trial at Hillsborough

Ryan France will undergo a trial period at Sheffield Wednesday after being released by Hull City at the end of last season.

The 28-year-old made 151 appearances for the Tigers during his six-year spell but a knee ligament injury in February 2007 hampered his progress at the club.

The midfielder featured twice in the Premier League last season with most of his outings coming in the FA Cup but now the former Alfreton Town man needs to try and resurrect his career.

France played in various positions during his time at the KC Stadium filling in at right-back, left-back and central midfield but it is at right wing where he will be hoping to impress Owls boss Brian Laws.

“Ryan is a hard-working player who has played in each of the four professional divisions of English football,” Laws told the club’s official website.

“He is also a Sheffield lad so I am very pleased to be able to see how he performs on trial this week.”

“If he impresses then we may be in a position to offer him a deal at Hillsborough.”

“It is an important week with the players returning to training so we will have a clearer picture of what could be at our disposal.”

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Subotic to stay with Dortmund, signs a new five year deal

Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund’s Neven Subotic has signed a new five-year deal with the German club, and dispelling speculation regarding his future.

The defender had been linked with away from the German club with Everton being interested in the 20 year-old after an impressive season in the Bundesliga.

The player, who was signed by manager Jurgen Klopp from FSV Mainz, has hinted that he may move to a major team in Europe at the end of his new deal which, he insisted, would be best for both him and the club.

“I am just 25-years of age in five years time,” he told Bild.

“If I would have the desire to move on that would still be a good time.”

“Staying is best for me. I made progress at Dortmund last season and it would be too early to move abroad.”

“I still have a lot to learn. At this point in time it would take an extraordinary bid to see me leaving.”

“This would be great for both, Borussia Dortmund and me. They would have big money and I would know that this new club is really interested in me as a player.”

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Benzema’s can leave the club, says Lyon coach Puel

Ligue 1 side Lyon’s coach Claude Puel has admitted that the club could let star striker Karim Benzema leave if he wants to.

The France International has become the most sought after player in Europe at the moment, with Arsenal, Manchester United, Inter Milan and Real Madrid among the clubs reportedly considering a 40million euro (£34million) bid.

Both Lyon and Benzema have always claimed he will remain at the Stade Gerland at least until next summer’s World Cup, but Puel knows that could swiftly change.

“We know his importance at OL and his efficiency in our squad,” Puel told the club website. “He’s an exceptional player, but we also know the financial figures of the club.”

“We will evaluate the situation with him when he comes back – July 2 – what he wants to do, we’ll listen to him.”

“For several months he has said that he wishes to stay with us for the year before the World Cup.”

“If he has any dreams of leaving we will discuss them with him if there are any concrete offers, which is not the case at the moment.”

“So there is no ‘Benzema problem’ because the player is still with us. Ahead of a transfer which could be out of the ordinary, there is everything to consider.”

Puel insists, however, that Benzema will only leave if the club manage to line up a suitable replacement.

“We will study the situation if it happens to present itself,” he continued. “This doesn’t mean that he will definitely leave Lyon.”

“For any coach it would be a great loss to lose Karim. It would mean that we have to replace him – therefore it would be out of the question to lose Karim if one or two players of his calibre were not coming in.”

Benzema came through the ranks with the French giants and burst onto the scene in the 2007-08 season with 31 goals in 51 games, a streak that saw him named Ligue 1 player of the year as well as top the league’s scoring charts.

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Olympiakos reject Owen link

Greek Champions Olympiakos have rejected speculation that they are in talks with English striker Michael Owen for a move to the Greek side.

The 29-year-old, whose contract with Newcastle is due to expire on Wednesday, has made it known that he will be leaving the club following four years.

Owen’s management company, Wasserman Media Group, has circulated a brochure to prospective buyers both at home and abroad, with Premier League rivals Hull City and Stoke City both demonstrating an interest.

Olympiakos, along with Roma, have been rumoured as a potential destination for the former Liverpool and Real Madrid star, while other rumors have suggested possible switches to the United States of America or Japan.

But the Greek champions, who recently completed the permanent signing of Matt Derbyshire from Blackburn following an initial loan move, have rejected the speculation.

An Olympiakos spokesperson told “This story is far from the truth.”

“No contact has been made with Michael Owen or his agents and we do not intend to have any contact.”

“Michael Owen is not one of our targets. We already bought the player we wanted from England and his name is Matt Derbyshire.”

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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Wolves make Doyle swoop

Premier League newbies Wolverhampton Wanderers look to set the record straight by signing Kevin Doyle, when they resume their domestic campaign.

The sought after Irish frontman has been signed from Reading for an undisclosed fee, while reports suggest he will cost Wanderers a club-record £6.5million.

Wolves have also said that they had to beat off competition from other top-flight clubs to secure the 25-year-olds services, who has signed a four-year contract at Molineux.

The Republic of Ireland striker, who signed for the Royals from Cork for a nominal fee in 2005, scored 55 goals in 163 games for the Berkshire club.

The Irishman revealed he had been impressed by the swiftness of Wolves’ approach and will partner Sylvan Ebanks-Blake, who netted 7 more times than Doyle by scoring 25 in 2008-09 Championship season.

“Wolves were the first club that actually came in and settled things with Reading and so they were the first club I spoke to,” Doyle told the club’s official website.

“I was expecting a long summer but Wolves were in straight away.

“It was nice to see how keen they were and when I came in and met the manager I just got on really well with him. I had a good easy conversation with him and it felt right.”

Doyle added: “I spoke to the manager and chief executive and came to the training ground to see everything.

“I’ve been making my mind up and am just really pleased the decision has been made.

“The facilities here are top class and it’s great to be going back into the Premier League again.

“I’m sad to be leaving Reading because I had some great years there but I’m going with their blessing as well which is nice. This is a fresh start.”

Despite losing one of their star men, Reading director of football Nick Hammond claimed it was a good deal for the Royals.

“He has arguably been one of the club’s best ever signings, in terms of what he produced on the pitch, the value for money he gave us, and now the fact he has been sold for a club-record fee,” he told Reading’s official website.

“The point in time arrived where it was the right opportunity for him and the right deal for the club as well.

“I have already offered my best wishes and I am sure the supporters will be doing the same to a player who rightly earned their respect.

“Lastly, it is important from my own point of view to say that Wolves, and in particular their chief executive Jez Moxey, have been a pleasure to deal with and very straightforward. They have got themselves a top player.”

Tue 30 Jun, 2009
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