Luka Modric drops quit hint

Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric has revealed that he could leave White Hart Lane this summer if the right offer comes along.

The Croatian midfielder is reportedly wanted by Manchester United among other clubs, and this is the first time he has spoken about a possible transfer.

“I’m trying to stay calm as my national team has a really important match coming,” Modric told Jutarnji Lits.

“As far as my status in Tottenham is concerned, the situation is unchanged for the time being.

“Everybody knows my stance – if there will be an offer which will be good for Tottenham and for me also, then a transfer is possible.

“That doesn’t mean that I’m bothered with leaving Tottenham. I am enjoying my time there.

“My status is great, the fans appreciate me and there is almost no reason to start searching for something else.

“But then again – once you experience playing in Champions League, then it’s a handicap to stay without that option.”

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Dassier: Deschamps going nowhere

Marseille president Jean-Claude Dassier has moved to reject claims that OM coach Didier Deschamps will take over the reigns at Roma.

The talented manager is seen as one of the favourites to take over from Vicenzo Montella at Olimpico, but Marseille president has now denied such a possibility.

“He plays around with reporters, but for me there is no shadow of a doubt, he will be the Coach of Olympique de Marseille next season,” Dassier told the club’s official website.

“You have to put yourself in his position. He is one of the five or six best European Coaches, you cannot dismiss it with a wave of a hand.

“Didier loves OM and loves the city, but he is also a great professional. I remain convinced that he will be with us and we will confirm it in the next few days.

“I think it’s more a form of appeal on his part. Maybe he wants to be told we love him…Well I say: Didier, yes, we love you, and we would like you to stay!”

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Delneri departs Juventus

Juventus have confirmed they have parted ways with coach Luigi Delneri, with Siena boss Antonio Conte expected to be named as his replacement.

The club revealed the news on their official website on Tuesday, after a disappointing Serie A campaign that saw them finish in seventh place.

The news of Delneri’s departure was no surprise, with the 60-year-old revealing last week that he would not be in the job next season, but Tuesday’s statement made it official.

“Juventus Football Club announce that Luigi Delneri will not be the coach for season 2011-2012,” the statement read.

“President Andrea Agnelli, the directors and the team would like to thank him for his hard work and wish him a successful professional future.”

Delneri’s departure means Juventus are free to appoint club legend Conte, who made over 300 appearances as a player for the Turin side – claiming five league titles and one Champions League trophy.

Formerly in charge at Arezzo, Bari and Atalanta, the 41-year-old most recently guided Siena to second place in Serie B, assuring them promotion to the top flight for the 2011-12 campaign.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Veh takes reins at Frankfurt

Eintracht Frankfurt have taken the first step in their bid to get back in the Bundesliga, hiring former Hamburg coach Armin Veh.

Eintracht were relegated from the German top-flight at the conclusion of last season, having finished second-bottom on the table with 34 points from as many matches.

That spelled the end of Christoph Daum’s brief tenure at the club, the former manager having led Eintracht to three draws and four defeats in his 55 days at the helm.

Veh was dismissed by Hamburg in March following a 6-0 humiliation by Bayern Munich but has a good pedigree, having led Stuttgart to the Bundesliga title in 2006/07.

Sporting director Bruno Huebner, who was only hired by the club last week, was delighted to have secured the services of Veh.

“He’s the only one I wanted. He was my number one choice and I’m glad we’ve managed to bring him here”, Huebner told German newspaper Frankfurter Rundschau.

Daum took over at the club in March following Michael Skibbe’s sacking.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Mexico tune up for CONCACAF defence against All Whites

Mexico get in their last warm-up before the CONCACAF Gold Cup when they host New Zealand in an international friendly on Wednesday.

Mexico coach Jose Manuel ‘El Chepo’ de la Torre will look to the match as a final chance to tinker with his side’s make-up ahead of their Gold Cup opener against El Salvador on Sunday.

Mexico are the most successful nation at the biennial American tournament and the reigning champions, having defeated the United States 5-0 in the 2009 final.

But their lead-up to the 2011 edition has been muted at best, with El Tri managing only 1-1 draws against Venezuela and Ecuador in their past two friendly outings.

Last Saturday’s draw with Ecuador featured the 23-man squad that El Chepo will take into the Gold Cup, with the notable exception of Manchester United starlet Javier Hernandez, who will link up with the squad prior to the El Salvador match.

But New Zealand will still come up against a squad bristling with talent in Denver, including the likes of on-loan Tottenham midfielder Giovani dos Santos, New York Red Bulls stalwart Rafael Marquez and Deportivo La Coruna playmaker Andres Guardado.

That line-up produced plenty of chances against Ecuador but just the one goal, a discrepancy that Mexico will look to address against the All Whites.

Elsewhere, Argentina continues their preparation for hosting the Copa America in July when they take on Nigeria in Abuja.

Argentina coach Sergio Batista will field an under-strength squad against the Super Eagles without the likes of Lionel Messi, Carlos Tevez, Javier Mascherano, Diego Milito and Gonzalo Higuain.

Argentina defeated Nigeria 1-0 in the group stages of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. Only two players from that squad – Nicolas Otamendi and Mario Bolatti – remain for the friendly.

Also on Wednesday, Japan open their Kirin Cup defence against Peru in Yokohama, their first match since defeating Australia to clinch the AFC Asian Cup in January.

The Blue Samurai are still to taste defeat under manager Alberto Zaccheroni, who took over from the popular Takeshi Okada following the World Cup.

In other friendlies, Canada have one final chance to impress ahead of the Gold Cup when they take on Ecuador, as do tournament rivals Guatemala, who take on Venezuela.

Finally, Ukraine and Uzbekistan square off at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, site of the final of the European Championship in 2012.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

FA wants FIFA to delay election

Football Association Chairman David Bernstein has called on FIFA to postpone Wednesday’s presidential election.

Football’s governing body is set to go to the polls with incumbent Sepp Blatter the only man left on the ballot after challenger Mohamed Bin Hammam was suspended.

Bin Hammam and FIFA Vice-President Jack Warner, who has also been suspended, stand accused of bribing Caribbean Football Union officials with US$40,000 cash for their votes for the right to host the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

The charges have incensed Warner, who in turn has alleged systemic bribery in FIFA, accused Blatter of willfully ignoring corruption in the body’s ranks and made public an email from secretary general Jerome Valcke saying Bin Hammam ‘bought’ Qatar the 2022 World Cup.

The FA announced two weeks earlier it would abstain from the presidential election, following testimony in a British parliamentary inquiry alleging vote-selling in the 2018 bid which England lost to Russia.

That decision now seems justified as FIFA descends into tit-for-tat accusations of bribery.

Bernstein has called on Blatter to postpone the election until the ethics committee has finished its investigations into Bin Hammam and Blatter.

In addition, the FA has asked for an independent review of FIFA with the aim of stamping out corruption, improving governance and restoring confidence in the much-maligned body.

A statement from Bernstein read: “There were two main reasons for (abstaining from voting). First, a concern, that a series of allegations relating to FIFA ExCo Members made it difficult to support either candidate.”

“Secondly, a concern about the lack of transparency and accountability within the organisation, contributing to the current unsatisfactory situation.”

“Events of the last few days have reinforced our views, and we call on FIFA and ask other national associations to support us with two initiatives.”

“First, to postpone the election and give credibility to this process, so any alternative reforming candidate could have the opportunity to stand for president.”

“Secondly, to appoint a genuinely independent external party to make recommendations regarding improved governance and compliance procedures and structures throughout the FIFA decision making processes for consideration by the full membership.”

“This has been a very damaging time for the reputation of FIFA and therefore the whole of football.”

“To improve confidence in the way the game is governed at the very top, we believe these requests would be a positive step forward and the minimum that should take place.”

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

A-League target summer boost

A-League chief Lyall Gorman is confident the later start to the 2011/12 season will enable the league to thrive again and ‘take over summer sport’ in Australia.

The draw for the next A-League season was released on Tuesday with the competition to start in October, two months later than it did last season.

It is a move designed to avoid a clash with the NRL and AFL finals, which have historically taken away much publicity and excitement from the start of the A-League season.

“It’s a tough gig for us competing in the final series in the other two football codes in August and September but a clear space will give us an opportunity to get some strong momentum,” Gorman said.

“It will allow our fans the opportunity to put away one hat or one scarf and put on another in clean time rather that the conflict of having to try to be a member here and a member there.”

“Going forward a critical component of our game is the conversion of our current conversion rate and our attendance at games into fully fledged members.”

“Summer sport is going to be all about football and that will be launched on the back of the Socceroos’ game on October 7.”

The later start also means a later finish, with the A-League Grand Final set down for the weekend of April 20-22.

Asked if he believed a clash with the AFL and NRL would detract from the A-League finals, Gorman said: “We’ve got to go into the market, walk tall with our head up and be confident about where we’re positioning ourselves.”

“The momentum we’ll have at that time of the year and the fact that it’s our finals series will stand us in very good stead.”

“We’ve carefully positioned our draw to make sure there are no long periods of time where any team is disadvantaged by an absence in their own marketplace.”

“We’ve tried to ensure a very strong presence in the Melbourne market, obviously with two clubs over there, to make sure that there is a football presence week in week out in what clearly is a major market for us.”

The highlight of the opening round sees a Grand Final rematch between Brisbane and Central Coast at Suncorp Stadium, while Adelaide United travel to Perth to play the Glory, who have recruited former Reds stars Travis Dodd and Adam Hughes for the new season.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Bojan and Maxwell to leave Camp Nou

Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola is looking to sell several fringe players this summer so as to make room for new signings.

The talented tactician is looking to trim down the squad before the start of next season and a couple of high profile players look to be nearing the exit door.

El Mundo Deportivo reports that Bojan Krkic, Maxwell, Gabrial Milito and Jeffren could all leave next summer.

Despite showing a lot of potential over the last few years, Bojan Krkic has seen his playing time very limited last season and Barcelona chiefs could finally decide to cash in on the highly regarded youngster.

Maxwell’s place in the side is in real danger following the arrivals of Adriano and Jose Angel, meaning that the Brazilian is likely to be sold this summer, just like Gabriel Milito, who failed to prove his potential after arriving from Zaragoza.

On the other hand, youngster Jeffren will be farmed out on loan, probably to one of the smaller La Liga sides, so as to gain some experience.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

United star Scholes calls it quits

Veteran Manchester United midfielder Paul Scholes has announced his retirement from football, but will take up a coaching role at the club.

Scholes had been expected to retire following United’s loss to Barcelona in the Champions League final on Saturday, having grown tired of his bit-part role in Sir Alex Ferguson’s set-up.

But United will still be able to draw upon his experience as they enter their English Premier League defence next season, having signed the 36-year-old to a coaching role at Old Trafford.

“I am not a man of many words but I can honestly say that playing football is all I have ever wanted to do and to have had such a long and successful career at Manchester United has been a real honour,” Scholes said.

“This was not a decision that I have taken lightly but I feel now is the right time for me to stop playing.”

“To have been part of the team that helped the Club reach that 19th title is a great privilege.”

Scholes made his debut in the League Cup at Port Vale in the 1994/95 season and has since racked up an incredible 676 appearances for United to sit fourth on the all-time list behind Bill Foulkes, Bobby Charlton and Ryan Giggs.

Ferguson said he was thrilled to know Scholes – who won 10 Premier League titles with the club – would be joining him in the dugout next season.

“What more can I say about Paul Scholes that I haven’t said before,” the manager said.

“We are going to miss a truly unbelievable player. Paul has always been fully committed to this club and I am delighted he will be joining the coaching staff from next season.”

“Paul has always been inspirational to players of all ages and we know that will continue in his new role.”

Added United chief executive David Gill: “It is very sad day for Manchester United fans around the world.”

“We all know that Paul was one of the players that came through the ranks of the academy system in the 90s and has established himself as one of the greatest players to ever wear the United shirt.”

“It is very important that the club keeps the associated with these great players and we are delighted that Paul will join the coaching staff.”

Scholes will bid farewell to the United faithful in a testimonial match in August.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed

Juventus launch an assault on Sanchez and Inler

Juventus are lining up a bid for Udinese duo Alexis Sanchez and Gokhan Inler, Tuttosport reports.

The Bianconeri are set to name Antonio Conte as the new boss later today and as soon as the new coach is officially presented the club officials will resume talks with Udinese chiefs regarding Sanchez and Inler.

Juventus general manager Beppe Marotta met Inler’s representatives on Friday and he reportedly agreed personal terms with the player, but the Old Lady have yet to agree a transfer fee with Udinese.

Marotta will try to lower the asking price by offering Sebastian Giovinco, whereas Manuel Giandonato, Albin Ekdal and Frederik Sorensen could also be included in the deal.

Juventus are also keen on Alexis Sanchez, who is looking to leave the club this summer, although the Bianconeri face a stiff competition from Inter and Manchester City.

The Chilean is reportedly eager to join Juventus, but Udinese’s €30 million asking price could prove to be a stumbling block.

Tue 31 May, 2011
RSS Feed