Valbuena commits to Marseille

Mathieu Valbuena has announced he will definitely be staying at Marseille this season.

The 24-year-old French midfielder had been linked with possible moves to Liverpool and Atletico Madrid over the summer.

But he has announced: “I just really want to stay. It should be pointed out this club really value me and make me want to do great things for them.”

The diminutive Valbuena is happy to be part of the competition for places at Marseille.

“It’s always been like this – with (Franck) Ribery, Samir Nasri or even Eric Gerets,” he recalled.

“Whether I am here or somewhere else, it’s always going to be like that.”

Mathieu began his career playing with FC Girondins de Bordeaux, but was released due to his small stature.

However, subsequent improved performances with Libourne Saint-Seurin, during the period they were promoted to Ligue 2, resulted in Marseille acquiring his services in 2008.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Carney completes Twente switch

Australia left-back David Carney is ready to relaunch his club career with FC Twente after signing a two-year deal with the Eredivisie outfit from Championship side Sheffield United.

The 25-year-old, who is expected to feature for the Socceroos in next year’s World Cup finals in South Africa, had fallen out of favour at Sheffield United and spent time on loan with Norwich at the end of last season.

But Steve McClaren has given Carney a chance to play top-flight football again with the Enschede-based club.

“Since the departure of Edson Braafheid to Bayern Munich, we wanted a replacement. With Nicky Kuiper we have a talented player for the future and we also have Jeroen Heubach,” McClaren told the club’s website.

“We wanted to look at our depth and increase competition for that position on the left. We have seen Carney and also obtained information from Luke Wilkshire and Pim Verbeek, the coach of Australia. Both were very positive about Carney.”

Wilkshire spent time at Twente before moving to Dinamo Moscow last year and had no hesitation recommending his countryman.

Carney helped put himself on the radar by scoring a sensational late goal for the Socceroos in the recent match against Republic of Ireland in Limerick.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Wolves sign Castillo, Maierhofer

Premier League newboys Wolverhampton signed Ecuador midfielder Segundo Castillo on a season’s loan from Red Star Belgrade on Monday.

Castillo spent last season on loan at Everton, making eight league appearances, but the Toffees opted not to sign him on a permanent basis.

The 27-year-old is Wolves boss Mick McCarthy’s eighth signing since the end of last season as he seeks to establish the Molineux outfit in the English top-flight.

Wolves have an option to sign Castillo permanently when the loan expires and Jez Moxey, the club’s chief operating officer, said: “We are delighted to announce Segundo as our latest signing.

“He is a player who arrives with extensive experience at international level as well as one of the leading Premier League clubs in Everton.”

Wolves have also clinched the signing of Austria striker Stefan Maierhofer from Rapid Vienna on a three-year deal.

Maierhofer, who scored 23 goals in 37 games for Rapid last season, has joined for an undisclosed fee and the deal includes an option for the club to extend the contract with the 6ft 7in frontman for a further season.

“We are delighted to bring Stefan in as our ninth new arrival this summer,” said Moxey.

“He is a player who has been a regular goalscorer for Rapid Vienna in recent seasons and helped the club qualify for the Europa League by contributing to their win against Aston Villa last week.

“Stefan had been targeted by Mick to add competition for places in the striking department, and once again we are pleased that the board and chairman Steve Morgan have been able to support the manager.”

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Kaka´s brother leaves Milan in transfer merry-go-round

Kaka’s younger brother Digao has joined second division Lecce on a season-long loan from AC Milan in one of many deadline day transfers in Italy.

The centre-back had already previously been loaned out to Standard Liege and Rimini (twice) since joining Milan in 2004, for whom he has played only one Italian Cup match.

Newly-promoted Parma have strengthened their midfield by signing Swiss Blerim Dzemaili on loan from Serie B Torino, with one million euros and striker Daniele Vantaggiato going the other way, also on loan.

Another midfielder moving clubs is Daniele Dossena who has joined Cagliari from Sampdoria while the Sardinians have also added Juventus full-back Ariaudo on loan.

Sampdoria have signed Empoli forward Nicola Pozzi on loan while Chievo and Catania have completed a loan swap deal for Giovanni Marchese (heading to Sicily) and Gennaro Sardo (joining the Flying Donkeys).

AS Roma have strengthened their goalkeeping resources with the loan signing of former Fiorentina and Ajax stopper Bogdan Lobont from Dinamo Bucharest, according to the Romanians.

And Napoli have loaned midfielder Manuele Blasi to Palermo.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Inter the future

This weekend saw the start of the new Italian Serie A season and Inter started the campaign with a message of intent to their so called title rivals.

The 4-0 derby defeat of AC Milan proved Inter are firing on all cylinders already. Inter boss Jose Mourinho has made some really shrewd signings this summer and those players will only improve the his strong squad.

New signings

One of the key signings for Inter this summer is midfield Wesley Sneijder who they signed from La Liga big spenders Real Madrid. The Dutch international is the sort of player that Mourinho’s team have missed in previous seasons. The sort of player that not only gives you skill and vision but also works hard for the team.

I was really surprised that Real Madrid let him go, but as a big fan of the player I’m glad hes going to get the first team action his ability deserves, instead of warming the Real Madrid bench after the arrival of big money stars. He has also helped his national side Holland become the first European team to qualify for next years World Cup in South Africa.

Another excellent signing is Cameroon international Samuel Eto’o. The Special One must of asked somebody to pinch him when Barcelona bid £40million plus the striker for the enigmatic Zlatan Imbrahimovic. Swedish striker Imbrahimovic seems to divide opinion amongst everybody. My opinion is not favourable on the former Ajax front man. Eto’o however could provide the goals that not only could win Serie A but could also help Inter progress further in the Champions League this season.

Mourinho has also recruited experienced defender Lucio from Bundesliga side Bayern Munich. The big centre-back brings a wealth of experience at both club and international level. He has won nearly every trophy in the game including the World Cup with Brazil. The one trophy that has eluded him so far is the Champions League crown and this season could provide him with that missing medal.

Striker Diego Milito and midfielder Thiago Motta have arrived from Genoa. Both players will be useful additions to the squad. Argentinian international Milito scored an impressive 24 goals in Serie A for Genoa last season. Brazilian midfielder Motta started his career of at Barcelona and has since played for Spanish La Liga side Atletico Madrid and is a midfielder anchorman.

Inter have also signed promising Brazilian striker Kerlon. The youngster who is famous for his ‘seal dribble’ moved to Serie A Chievo last summer from Brazilian side Cruzeiro, but struggled to adapt to his new environment due to injury problems, which restricted him to just three appearances. He will be hoping for better look at the Giuseppe Meazza this season.

Inter have also signed Austrian youngster Marko Arnautovic from FC Twente on a season-long loan with a view to a £7million permanent deal. The striker scored 12 goals for Eredivisie side Twente last season. The striker is currently sidelined and won’t be available to play for at least two months.

Players moving on

Apart from the aforementioned sale of Ibrahimovic to Barcelona. Inter released experienced Argentinean Julio Cruz earlier in the summer and he decided to join Serie A rivals Lazio. The striker won’t be much of a loss as he has only played a bit-part role in recent seasons. Another Argentine Nicolas Burdisso has joined Roma on a season-long loan deal. The defender was allowed to leave due to the arrival of Lucio and was deemed surplus to requirements.

Veteran midfielder Luis Figo has retired from football and is expected to take up a non-playing position at the club. Chilean midfielder Luis Jimenez has moved to Premier League West Ham on a season-long loan deal. The playmaker failed to command a regular place in Jose Mourinho’s side last season and has decided to move on this summer.

Serie A title rivals

Inter have had little if any challenge for their title of Serie A champions in recent years. Their main challenge is expected to come from the usual teams city rivals AC Milan and Turin giants Juventus. Juventus look by far the better challengers for the Serie A title than the aging Milan side, as shown in that Derby day humiliation by Inter at the weekend. Milan have too many aging players and a coach that has no managerial experience in Leonardo.

Juve have lost influential Czech midfielder Pavel Nedved, who has retired from football. Although Juve still have a strong squad. They have strengthened their squad with the signing of Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo from Fiorentina for £21.5million. They also have signed Italian international defender Fabio Cannavaro on a free transfer from big spending La Liga giants Real Madrid. The most important capture though has been the signing of Brazilian playmaker Diego from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen for £21million. The young midfielder has already made a huge impression scoring twice on his debut at the weekend.

Predictions

However Inter will still be strong enough to claim this season’s Serie A title. That’s nothing new, but I do expect a big improvement in their Champions League form this season. The signings of Sneijder and Eto’o will prove crucial as both players have extensive Champions League experience. Eto’o will be particularly important as he has won the competition twice while at Barca. With a bit of luck they could even reach the latter stages of the competition and I bet the Special One would be ever so modest about that achievement.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Cole targets last shot at World Cup glory

Ashley Cole believes the 2010 World Cup in South Africa represents the last chance for his generation of England stars to win a major international tournament.

Fabio Capello’s side can book their place in next year’s finals with a victory over Croatia at Wembley on September 9 and Chelsea left-back Cole is well aware that for players of his age there might not be another chance to shine in the World Cup.

Cole, 28, and the likes of John Terry, Frank Lampard, David Beckham and Rio Ferdinand are all in the latter stages of their careers, leaving South Africa as their final shot at ending England’s wait to win the tournament for the first time since 1966.

“We’ve all grown up. We’ve started to realise that this World Cup finals could be our last tournament,” Cole said.

“I’ve got good young players coming up in my position, so I know there is pressure. I have to focus and make sure I do well. I think it’s the same for a lot of players.

“I think the England team is quite set in the players that play too – we’re not chopping and changing all the time.

“The manager knows his team and the squad he’ll take if we get there. He knows the way we’ll play and the lads he’ll pick.

“It feels settled, and people are starting to come into their own. Wayne Rooney, for instance, is playing very well – and we hope we can all play well up to the end of the season and then do something very special with England in South Africa.”

Wayne Rooney’s form is key to England’s chances of winning the World Cup and Capello admits the Manchester United star can get even better as he gains experience.

“Rooney is a really important player, he’s incredible and young – he can improve a lot with more experience and confidence in himself,” Capello said.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Fiorentina and West Ham swap Da Costa and Nsereko

Fiorentina have signed West Ham winger Savio Nsereko with Portuguese defender Manuel Da Costa heading in the other direction, the Italian team said Monday.

Fiorentina, who have also sold Serbian midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic to Stuttgart for seven million euros, have added teenage Boca Juniors defender Ezequiel Munoz for 10 million euros.

The 19-year-old will be out for two months due to injury, though.

No finanacial details were given for the swap deal with the Hammers.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Grosso Juve deal agreed, say press

Juventus have come to agreement over the three-million-euro transfer of Italy full-back Fabio Grosso from Lyon, according to Italian press reports on Monday.

The 32-year-old, a World Cup winner with Italy in 2006, will sign a two-year deal with the Turin club.

The news contradicted and earlier claim from Grosso’s agent Beppe Bozzo that a miracle would be needed to complete the switch before the end of Monday’s transfer deadline.

“Juve have made an offer that Lyon believe is too low. As the hours pass and the end of the window approaches, it gets harder to reach a deal,” Bozzo told Rai.

“Grosso wants to return to Italy but it’s down to Lyon. I’m not optimistic, it would need a miracle for this transfer to be completed today.”

Grosso won a French league title and a cup during his two-year stint in the Rhone-Alps region but was pushed out of the first team by the arrival of Frenchman Aly Cissokho from Porto.

Grosso began his career in the lower divisions with Chieti before moving to Perugia and then on to Palermo.

He spent the 2006/07 season with Inter Milan, winning the Serie A title but was sold to Lyon as he was not first choice at the San Siro.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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Belgians in uproar over ankle-crunching tackle

Anderlecht player Axel Witsel became public enemy number one here Monday a day after putting Standard Liege’s Marcin Wasilewski in hospital with a broken ankle and facing a year out of football.

Wasilewski, 29, underwent an operation after the 1-1 league draw on Sunday to reduce the fracture but, with an injury similar to the horrific one suffered by Arsenal’s Eduardo in February 2008, he is expected to go under the knife again next week.

His club Standard, the defending league champions from the French-speaking city of Liege, said the defender could be out for a year meaning he will miss the World Cup finals if Poland manage to qualify.

Witsel meanwhile was put through the wringer by the country’s press, which is believed to be partly because he is considered a great hope for the future having won the Golden Boot trophy for the best player in the Belgian championship in 2008.

Flemish-language newspaper Het Laatste Nieuws was one of several that put the story on their front pages, calling Witsel’s challenge an “absolute disgrace”, while French language paper Le Soir called Witsel’s gesture a “moment of madness”.

Witsel quickly apologised for the horror tackle but the 20-year-old Belgian international was shunned by some of his teammates and the club’s sponsor was so shocked it released a statement hitting out at the player.

Witsel will appear at a disciplinary hearing at the Belgian football federation (URBSFA) on Tuesday and is expected to be handed a lengthy ban.

Mon 31 August, 2009
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City life suits Adebayor after Arsenal acrimony

Emmanuel Adebayor has taunted Arsenal fans by revealing how Manchester City supporters have inspired his impressive start to the season.

Adebayor wasn’t missed by many at Arsenal when City paid 25 million pounds (28.3 million euros) to sign the Togo star during the close-season after an acrimonious final 12 months in north London.

Arsenal fans were angered by Adebayor’s constant flirtations with the likes of AC Milan, Barcelona and Chelsea, while several Gunners players hinted that the dressing room was a happier place without the forward.

But Adebayor has made a superb start to life with City and his winner at Portsmouth on Sunday took his tally to three goals in three games for his new team.

“As soon as you play for a team where the fans love you and are always behind you, you try to give them something back,” he said.

“That is what I have been showing since I joined this club. It is the same with new players like Carlos Tevez and Gareth Barry – with the support from the fans, that motivates and makes you a special player.

“We have three wins, three clean sheets, nine points – for us the most important thing is believing we can do something good.

“We’ll see where the season takes us. We have to keep enjoying ourselves.”

Mon 31 August, 2009
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