Martinez turns to young striker

Roberto Martinez believes young striker Callum McManaman can help Wigan Athletic away from the English Premier League danger zone.

The Latics manager has resisted the temptation to spend out big money in the transfer market for a new forward, despite off-loading six-million-pound man Mauro Boselli to Genoa at the start of January.

That was partly because of the emergence of McManaman, who was again excellent at Bolton in the FA Cup on Saturday and is a player Martinez believes has a huge future at the club.

“He’s ready,” Martinez said.

“We’ve also got Hugo (Rodallega), Charles (N’Zogbia), Franco (di Santo), Victor (Moses) and Tom (Cleverley) at the club, so the forward line is very good here.”

“But Callum’s ready for whatever role we will give him. It’s not a case of relying on Callum to stay in the Premier League.”

“But rather than bringing in a player without any Premier League experience, to be an extra member of the squad, I feel Callum deserves that role in the squad.”

McManaman is expected to drop to the bench for Tuesday’s clash at West Brom, with both sides in desperate need of the points at the foot of the table.

Only three points separate 18th-placed Wigan and West Brom in 16th, with Latics hoping to complete a league double over the Baggies following the 1-0 victory at the DW Stadium in November.

Back will come the likes of Rodallega, N’Zogbia and goalkeeper Ali Al Habsi, while James McCarthy and Di Santo will be pushing for starts after recovering from long-term injuries.

Antolin Alcaraz, however, will not be fit, although his soft tissue problem will hopefully have cleared in time to face Blackburn on Saturday.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Milan sign Juventus reject; Magath reveals shock transfer close to fruition

Milan sign Juventus reject

Milan have announced the signing of defender Nicola Legrottaglie on their official website.

The 34-year-old was given permission to leave after Juventus signed Andrea Barzagli as a cover for Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci.

The defender who was mostly used as a fringe player at Juventus has completed his medical at Milan before signing a six-month contract with the Rossoneri.

He has thus become Milan’s fifth signing of the transfer window, albeit a controversial one, after Antonio Cassano, Urby Emanuelson, Mark van Bommel and Didac Villa had arrived at San Siro.

Even if the former Italy international is likely to be used as a back-up player at San Siro, the Rossoneri fans will not be too happy with the signing of Juventus reject.

Magath reveals shock transfer close to fruition

Schalke boss Felix Magath has confirmed the club are set to sign former Bayern midfielder Ali Karimi.

Magath, who coached Karimi at Bayern, believes the Iran international will add much needed creativity to the squad.

“Ali Karimi is on the verge of signing for Schalke. It’s just a matter of wrapping up some formalities,” Magath told Kicker.

“We have some problems to get the ball from midfield to attack at the moment. Karimi could really help us with that.”

Karimi is expected to sign a six-month deal at Veltins Arena subject to passing a medical.

Ali Karimi can be seen as a controversial signing for Schalke seeing that he failed to prove his potential while at Bayern and that he is now 32 years old, but it appears that Felix Magath is ready to take a gamble with him.

Bolton closing in on Chelsea forward

Chelsea striker Daniel Sturridge is on the verge of completing a loan deal to Bolton.

The 21-year-old striker has undergone a medical at Reebok Stadium and he is expected to be in the squad to face Wolves on Wednesday.

Despite showing massive potential this season, the young striker hasn’t started a single Premiership game this season, although he did score a couple of goals in the Cup competitions.

With Drogba, Anelka and Kalou in the side, Carlo Ancelotti decided to allow Sturridge to join Bolton in his search for first team football.

Sturridge is expected to provide cover for Johan Elmander and Kevin Davies, although he should get much more playing time than at Chelsea.

This move could benefit all three sides with Sturridge set to gain much needed first team experience at Reebok.

[Source: The Sun]

For more news about football transfers and rumours, visit our Transfer News section. To view all football transfers for 2010/11 season, visit our Soccer Transfers section.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Leverkusen want United target to stay

Bayer Leverkusen are hoping to keep highly rated goalkeeper Rene Adler away from Manchester United – at least for a few seasons yet.

The Germany shot-stopper has been linked with a move to the English Premier League heavyweights, who will lose incumbent Edwin van der Sar to retirement at season’s end.

Adler – who missed the 2010 World Cup through injury – has been revealed as a long-time United fan.

But the 26-year-old appears set to stay at the BayArena, according to Leverkusen General Manager Rudi Voeller.

“Rene Adler has been a supporter of Manchester United since he was a child and he has a buy-out clause in his current contract just in case United come up,” the former Germany striker and manager told Sport 1.

“This clause is in a region of beyond 17 million pounds.”

“We have the ambition to keep him at our club and we are in good talks. We have the intention to see him sign on for more seasons.”

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Premier League preview: West Brom v Wigan

West Bromwich Albion will hope loan signing Carlos Vela can give them an edge when they host relegation rivals Wigan on Tuesday.

Mexican international Vela arrived at the Hawthorns on Friday and will remain on loan from Arsenal for the remainder of the season.

The 21-year-old forward has struggled to make an impression at the Emirates Stadium behind Robin van Persie, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner as Arsenal challenge for the Premier League title.

But his unpredictable talent could prove vital as West Brom battle against returning to the Championship at the first time of asking.

Roberto Di Matteo’s side are 16th in the table, three points clear of the last relegation place, which is occupied by Wigan.

West Brom have won just twice in eight league matches and lost 2-0 away to Blackburn in their last outing on January 23.

Wigan meanwhile can climb out of the relegation zone if they beat West Brom and Birmingham lose or draw.

But they have played one game more than their hosts on Tuesday and two more than Birmingham.

Wolves, the team immediately beneath them, also have a game in hand.

If Wigan lose and West Ham United win or draw, they could find themselves at the bottom of the table, something manager Roberto Martinez will be desperate to avoid.

West Brom are still without Steven Reid due to a knee injury, while Marc-Antoine Fortune and Giles Barnes are both in doubt.

Wigan have overcome many of the injury problems that blighted the first half of their season, but Manchester United loanee Tom Cleverley is still suffering from a hamstring problem.

Viktor Moses made his long-awaited return from a shoulder injury in Wigan’s 0-0 FA Cup fourth-round draw with Bolton on Saturday.

And Martinez will be hoping the promising forward can make a difference as his team battle to retain their Premier League status.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Premier League preview: Manchester United v Aston Villa

Gerard Houllier’s rivalry with Sir Alex Ferguson resumes as Aston Villa make the trip to Manchester United on Tuesday.

Frenchman Houllier has overseen Premier League victories over the Red Devils manager on five occasions, all of which came during his tenure as Liverpool boss from 1998 to 2004.

It is a record bettered only by Houllier’s compatriot Arsene Wenger, who has led Arsenal to nine league wins against Ferguson’s side, the most of any manager.

But while Houllier’s personal record against the most successful team in Premier League history is solid, Villa’s is anything but. The Midlands club have claimed a solitary win from their last 30 league clashes against United.

It is a dismal record that Houllier’s men were on the verge of improving when the sides last met, only for them to throw away a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes as United limped away from Villa Park with a 2-2 draw in November.

After overcoming recent struggles that resulted in a brief stint in the relegation zone, Villa have recorded three straight victories in all competitions and will take growing belief with them to Old Trafford.

The forward combination of Gabriel Agbonlahor and new signing Darren Bent will be integral if they are to claim the unlikely three points, particularly given that Agbonlahor has been a constant source of goals against the Red Devils – the speedy striker has netted four of his side’s past eight goals against Ferguson’s men.

However, table-topping United are a daunting prospect at home, where they have won their last eight league games.

Undefeated in the league this season and sitting five points clear of second-place Arsenal, Ferguson’s side are primed to claim their 12th title under the long-serving Scotsman since the inauguration of the Premier League in 1993.

They will be heavy favourites to account for Villa, but may need to get by with a makeshift defence, as Rafael (concussion) and Rio Ferdinand (groin) are both in doubt.

Midfielder Michael Carrick may return following an ankle injury, while Patrice Evra will return to boost Ferguson’s dwindling defensive stocks after missing Saturday’s 2-1 FA Cup win over Southampton because of a family bereavement.

Houllier will have the majority of his squad to choose from for the trip to the North West, with Fabian Delph and Stephen Ireland, both battling knee problems, the only absentees.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Can new signings help keep West Ham in the Premier League?

West Ham have completed the signing of Tottenham striker Robbie Keane on-loan for the rest of the season.

The 30 year-old should prove to be a decent signing as the Hammers look to drag themselves out of the relegation zone.

Signings

Keane will be joined at the Boleyn Ground by Senegalese striker Demba Ba and midfielder Gary O’Neill. Ba joined the club after failing a medical at Premier League rivals Stoke City.

The deal was initially set to be a loan move but he has in fact joined for a fee in the region of £6million, depending on appearances from Bundesliga side Hoffenheim.

Gary O’Neill has been brought in from Championship Middlesbrough for an undisclosed fee. He will give Hammers boss Avram Grant an extra body in the midfield area.

Short

Grant at times this season has found himself short of players and these signings will give the Israeli some extra options. His side have had some injury problems but also started the season with a relatively small squad of senior players.

Improvement

West Ham should be encouraged by their latest Premier League outing at Everton. They showed a never say die attitude and almost claimed three vital points, only an injury-time equaliser denied them maximum points.

Bottom

West Ham are currently bottom of the Premier League but their recent performances at Goodison Park and their first half display at Birmingham in the Carling Cup have shown what they are capable of.

The Premier League is also very tight and a few wins could take them away from the danger zone. West Ham are by no means cut adrift at the bottle of the table.

Crucial

West Ham have two crucial games coming up in the next week. Firstly they head to Blackpool on Wednesday night and then host relegation rivals Birmingham City next Sunday. These games could be pivotal for the rest of the season for Grant’s side.

Morale

The three recent signings will give the club a boost. I recently wrote an article about Robbie Keane still being good enough for the Premier League and I stand by that. He has great movement and a good scoring record.

He may be slightly rusty from not playing regularly for Tottenham but once he gets a few games under his belt he could be a key signing. He may be 30 years old but his game was always based on his good footballing brain.

West Ham needs a clever striker to compliment the strength and height of Carlton Cole. Demba Ba is a different sort of player completely. His game is based more on pace and power.

He has a decent scoring record with Hoffenheim scoring 40 goals in 100 appearances for the German side. The 25 year-old is already predicting that he will save the club from relegation. He will be hoping that he does manage to help the club survive relegation or he may be reunited with former club Watford in the Championship.

O’Neil is a hard working midfielder who always gives 100 per cent. The sort of player you need in a relegation battle. He is not the most technically gifted of players but was highly-rated in his teens and made nine appearances for England Under-21’s.

Better

I have to admit that the signing of these three players and left-back Wayne Bridge earlier this month has made West Ham’s squad far stronger than it was at the start of the season. The signings certainly have gave West Ham a better chance of survival but the question is will they be enough to keep them in the Premier League?

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Premier League preview: Sunderland v Chelsea

A recovering Chelsea will be out for revenge when they travel to Sunderland’s Stadium of Light in the English Premier League on Tuesday.

Defending champions Chelsea suffered a shock 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland in November, sparking a precipitous loss of form.

They won just once in eight subsequent league games – the club’s worst run in 10 years.

But owner Roman Abramovich kept faith with manager Carlo Ancelotti and the team have seemingly turned a corner.

They beat Championship strugglers Ipswich 7-0 in the FA Cup, before a 2-0 win over Blackburn Rovers and a 4-0 victory over Bolton Wanderers in the league.

The revival took a jolt when they were forced to scramble for a 1-1 draw away to Everton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday.

Abramovich has also demonstrated his faith in Ancelotti with big-money bids for Benfica defender David Luiz and Liverpool striker Fernando Torres.

Chelsea will travel to Sunderland aiming to pay back Steve Bruce’s side for the damage inflicted on their title defence.

Following their improbable victory at Stamford Bridge – Chelsea’s heaviest defeat at home since 2002 – Sunderland have won five and drawn three out of 11 matches to sit sixth in the table.

Just four points behind Chelsea and enjoying one of their best seasons in the Premier League, they were rocked in January by the surprise departure of top-scorer Darren Bent to Aston Villa.

Manager Steve Bruce still has the services of record-signing Asamoah Gyan to call on in attack, but it remains to be seen if the Ghana international can fill the void left by the departure of Bent.

New arrival Stephane Sessegnon from Paris Saint-Germain and loan signing Sulley Muntari could make their debuts for Bruce’s side.

Sunderland also have a number of important players out, including forwards Danny Welbeck and Fraizer Campbell, defender Michael Turner and captain Lee Cattermole.

Sidelined centre-back Alex continues to be a major absentee for Chelsea, while key midfielder Frank Lampard, who has endured his most injury-interrupted season to date at Stamford Bridge, is still in doubt after missing the match against Bolton.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Premier League preview: Arsenal v Everton

Arsenal will be without top scorer Samir Nasri when they welcome Everton to the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

The French midfielder injured his hamstring in Arsenal’s 2-1 win over Huddersfield in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday, and manager Arsene Wenger confirmed he would be unavailable for the Premier League clash against David Moyes’ side.

“Nasri looks to have a serious hamstring injury,” Wenger said. “Usually it is three weeks (out), we have to see if it is a grade one (strain) because that can be two (weeks).”

“It is a big blow, how big I do not know because the results in the future will tell, but it is a big blow.”

Arsenal are still alive in four competitions this season and Tuesday’s clash with Everton could be pivotal to their hopes of winning the league for the first time since 2004.

The Gunners trail league leaders Manchester United by five points after 23 matches but Wenger said it would be tough to maintain their run in the Premier League, Champions League, Carling Cup and FA Cup.

“History shows it’s extremely difficult,” Wenger said. “It’s difficult to tell my players not to go for this competition and that competition now as we are in there.”

“It’s the important part of the season not to lose your players. When you go into the final sprint, it’s important you have all your best players available.”

Injuries could prove to be a hurdle for Arsenal, with Nasri joining Denilson, Barcary Sagna and Thomas Vermaelen on the injury list.

Everton will arrive in London full of confidence after drawing 1-1 with defending champions Chelsea in their fourth-round FA Cup tie on Saturday.

Moyes’ side were unlucky not to win the match, with Marouane Fellaini and Jack Rodwell dominant in the midfield and Louis Saha scoring his seventh goal in eight matches against Chelsea.

Everton have had a nasty habit of drawing winnable games this season, with a record of five wins, 12 draws and six losses in the Premier League so far this season.

They will be buoyed by the likely return of their top scorer Tim Cahill, who returns to the side on Tuesday after a month away with the Australian national side, who lost the final of the Asian Cup to Japan on Saturday.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Serie A preview: Title race heats up

The battle between first and third opens the Serie A midweek round as league leaders AC Milan host Lazio on Tuesday.

Milan are four points clear of Napoli at the top of the table, with Lazio a further three points back in third, meaning a loss for Edoardo Reja’s side would seriously damage their tilt at a first Serie A title since 2000.

Lazio’s recent form has been patchy, with a win over Sampdoria their only victory in five games before they defeated Fiorentina 2-0 on Sunday.

Milan on the other hand are unbeaten in eight games in all competitions, and defeated Catania 2-0 on Sunday despite having new signing Mark van Bommel sent off.

The previous meeting between these two sides this season ended 1-1, with Sergio Floccari’s late goal cancelling out Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s opener for Milan, and with 13 goals in the league this season, the big Swede is sure to be the danger man again at the San Siro on Tuesday.

A slip-up by Milan means Napoli could cut the lead at the top to just one point if they can beat Chievo on their trip to the Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi on Wednesday.

Walter Mazzarri’s side are unbeaten in four games and boast the league’s top scorer in Edinson Cavani, but will be wary of a Chievo side who had their first victory in 10 games with a 3-0 win over Brescia on Saturday.

Roma can potentially move back into the top four if they can beat struggling Brescia at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday.

Brescia are languishing in 19th on the table having won just twice in their last 15 games in all competitions, and will not fancy a trip to the nation’s capital to take on Claudio Ranieri’s side.

Juventus will hope to revive their faltering title run when they visit Palermo, with Luigi Delneri’s side taking just five points from their last five games.

Udinese have leapfrogged Juve on the back of a five-game unbeaten run and will look to continue their surge up the table when they host Bologna on Wednesday.

Cesena will be looking to climb out of the relegation zone with a win over fellow battlers Catania, while Sampdoria host Cagliari and Genoa travel to the Stadio Artemio Franchi to face Fiorentina.

Lecce will hope to snap a run of three straight draws when they travel to Parma in Wednesday’s final game, while in Thursday’s lone match, Inter will be out to continue bottom side Bari’s woes when the two sides meet at Stadio Communale San Nicola.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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Napoli to sign Eredivisie hotshot

Napoli have clinched the signing of striker Tim Matavz from Groningen, according to La Gazzetta dello Sport.

Napoli will reportedly pay €7 million for the Slovenia international, who is already considered one of the hottest prospects in Europe.

Matavz has exploded at Groningen this season, scoring 12 goals in 21 Eredivisie games, thus helping his side reach the fourth place in the standings.

The Slovenian will become a fourth signing for Napoli in January transfer window, following Victor Ruiz, who arrived at the club from Espanyol.

Matavz will provide back-up for Edison Cavani and Ezequiel Lavezzi and offer coach Walter Mazzari a new option in attack.

The Slovenian has already proved his potential despite relatively young age, although it remains to be seen how long he will need to adapt to Serie A, with the Italian league much stronger and tougher than Dutch Eredivisie.

Mon 31 January, 2011
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