Italy international admits he could join Lazio

Palermo defender Mattia Cassani has revealed that he is close to making a switch to Lazio.

The Biancocelesti are looking for a right-back to replace Juventus-bound Stephan Lichtsteiner.

Lazio are reportedly in negotiations with Genoa for Abdoulay Konko, but they are also tracking Mattia Cassani.

“Every day could be the day when a deal is done,” the Cassani told Radio Mana Mana.

“All of the parties are working hard. My agent is having contact with president Claudio Lotito on a daily basis.

“Once a deal has been agreed between the two clubs then I’ll be contacted by them. Until then I just have to wait.

“I’ve told my agent to phone me when my presence is needed to define everything.”

Lazio have reportedly also expressed interest in Palermo’s Cesare Bovo.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Gill blasts United bias

Manchester United chief David Gill believes his club has been unfairly targeted by the Football Association (FA) because of their success.

The CEO made the claims in his new book, Champ19ns, after the English champions were at the centre of several controversial moments last season.

Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was given a five-match touchline ban for comments made about referee Martin Atkinson in March, while striker Wayne Rooney was handed a two-match suspension after swearing into a TV camera.

Gill said the punishments were harsh and United were being made an example of because of their standing in the game.

“I do genuinely believe there have been some poor-ish decisions that, in my opinion, wouldn’t necessarily have hit other clubs,” he wrote in the book.

“That’s not to say I’m condoning Wayne’s comments because I don’t think they were correct, or what Sir Alex said because it wasn’t helpful.”

“At the same time, the actual punishments were harsh. We’re possibly being caught up in being one of the biggest clubs and the ‘Respect’ agenda being there – what better way to demonstrate the authorities are being tough than by hitting one of the biggest clubs the hardest?”

Ferguson received a three-match ban for his comments about Atkinson following the 2-1 loss to Chelsea, but the incident also activated a two-game suspended sentence handed down for accusing referee Alan Wiley of being ‘not fit’ in October 2009.

Following the Chelsea loss, Ferguson said: “You want a fair referee or a strong referee anyway, and we didn’t get that. I must say, when I saw who the referee was I feared it. I feared the worst.”

Rooney was in trouble a month later for swearing into a TV camera after completing his hat-trick in a 4-2 win over West Ham.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Serie A giants Juventus have money to spend this summer – where should they invest it?

Many believe that Italy’s most successful club Juventus are a long way away from winning what would be a 28th (or a 30th – depending on who you support) Scudetto. Since the ‘Calciopoli’ match-fixing scandal that rocked Italian football back in 2006, the Bianconeri have failed to challenge in any competition, with exception to the 2006/07 Serie B championship, which they comfortably won.

Despite this, they are currently looking as good as ever on the rumour mill, expressing interest in, and being linked to a number of top class performers, who would undoubtedly add the spark and class required to aid the club in their quest for another Italian title.

Solid start

Having already captured the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Reto Ziegler and Michele Pazienza all on free transfers, the Old Lady have made a solid start to this summer’s transfer period. Antonio Conte has been unveiled as the new coach, Lazio right-back Stephan Lichtsteiner looks set to become the next signing after passing a medical, and they have also spent just under €40 million to secure the outright services of Alessandro Matri, Fabio Quagliarella, Simone Pepe and Marco Motta.

Things are looking bright in Turin, and with a reported €50 million to spend this summer, and an additional €120 million to be injected in December, who should the club set their sights on?

Atletico’s Aguero

Undoubtedly the biggest name linked to the club this summer, Atletico Madrid superstar Sergio Aguero would be the perfect addition to Conte’s squad. For so long Juventus have relied on talisman Alessandro Del Piero up front, however with the captain entering the twilight years of his career, they must place their faith in a younger hitman, who will be able to serve the club well over the next decade.

Aguero is almost certain to leave Atletico in the coming weeks, however along with the interest shown by Real Madrid, the Argentine’s €45 million price tag may prove to be too much for the Bianconeri at this stage. Nevertheless, the latest reports continue to indicate he will join the club in the coming week, a move that would surely mark the commencement of a Juventus resurgence.

Defensive dilemmas

In addition to their lack of quality up front, Juve have a number of defensive dilemmas – mainly on the flanks – that continue to cause them problems. As mentioned, Lichtsteiner and Ziegler have been called in to help ease these issues, however a player in the form of Michel Bastos would be the perfect signing for next season, and for the future.

The Old Lady have been linked with the Lyon man in recent years, and simply must acquire his services this time around, if they wish to at least reclaim a spot in the UEFA Champions League, amongst the continent’s elite, in the 2012/13 season. The Brazilian will add a touch of class to the club’s inconsistent defensive ranks, and will slot in nicely alongside the likes of Giorgio Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci at the back.

Other options

Juve have openly declared that Aguero is their main target for the summer, however should they fail to reach an agreement with Atletico, they will have to consider other options for the summer. Want away Manchester City striker Carlos Tevez has been touted as a potential addition to the squad, however rumours of his arrival have eased recently. Roma attacker Mirko Vucinic is another name that has been thrown up in the air, as has Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain and Karim Benzema. Should Aguero’s proposed move to the Bianconeri fail to go through however, it is expected that the Villarreal hotshot Giuseppe Rossi will become the primary attacking target. In midfield, the Bianconeri have been linked to Lassana Diarra of Real Madrid, and Udinese’s Gokhan Inler, both of whom would add composure and class to an improving Bianconeri midfield.

Despite having already acquired two quality fullbacks in Lichtsteiner and Ziegler, Juventus must focus on the signing of Bastos, at least one world-class striker – preferably Aguero, another central midfielder, and perhaps a winger for the 2011/12 campaign.

Who should Juventus sign this summer?

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Milan ponder move for Nasri

Milan are the latest club to have joined the race to sign Arsenal’s Samir Nasri, Il Corriere dello Sport reports.

The Frenchman, whose contract with Arsenal is set to expire next summer, is reportedly unsettled at the Emirates and is looking for a way out.

If the Gunners fail to persuade the Frenchman into signing a new deal, they will be looking to cash in on him this summer, rather than losing him for free in year’s time.

Milan have reportedly contacted the player’s representative as they look to add more quality to their midfield, but the Rossoneri could face a stiff competition from Manchester United.

The Serie A champions had earlier made it known that they are looking for a left sided midfielder and Nasri fits the bill.

However, the reports suggest that Arsenal wouldn’t settle for anything less than £20 million.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Will Connor Wickham provide value for money for Sunderland?

Premier League club Sunderland have completed the signing of Ipswich striker Connor Wickham for an initial fee of £8million, potentially rising to £12million.

The England under-21 international is highly-rated but at 18 he is still young.

Confirmation

A statement on the clubs official website read: “ Steve Bruce has made England Under 21 international Connor Wickham his latest summer signing.

Wickham was believed to be interesting Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham but it’s the Mackems who have secured the services of the youngster. It is seen as something of a coup for Steve Bruce and the North East outfit.

Money

Steve Bruce has money to spend this summer after selling striker Darren Bent to Aston Villa for £24million in January and midfielder Jordan Henderson to Liverpool for £20million earlier this summer.

That’s a considerable transfer kitty for the Sunderland boss to spend this summer. To spend £8million on the youngster could be seen as a slight gamble considering Bruce’s need for firepower now, not years down the line.

Strikers

Sunderland struggled for goals towards the end of last season after losing Bent in January. The likes of on-loan Danny Welbeck and Asamoah Gyan picked up relatively long-term injuries.

That left Steve Bruce with nobody to play up front. I seem to remember Sunderland playing with Stephane Sessegnon and Jordan Henderson as attackers at one point. Bruce’s priority had to be to strengthen his forward line.

However surely Steve Bruce can’t just rely on the youngster up front. He needs to sign other more experienced strikers to provide competition for places in the squad.

Potential

Wickham is full of potential and won last seasons Championship Young Player of the Year award. He has shown in his short Ipswich career that he has potential to become a very good player.

He has a rare physical build for a player of his age and always seems to prove a handful for opposition defences. However he is not yet a consistent goalscorer and he will have to improve that side of his game if he is to be a success in the top flight.

Regular

He will only develop his game by playing first team football in the Premier League. Maybe that was his thinking in choosing to sign for Sunderland and not waiting for a move to the likes of Liverpool or Arsenal.

Wickham is one of England’s best prospects and if he moved to a bigger club then his talent could be wasted just sitting on the bench. That sort of move would also have been bad for his England future.

Smart

The move to Sunderland is a smart move by Connor Wickham. He knows that he will gain Premier League experience without being overexposed and over hyped at one of the top clubs.

Sunderland are a relatively big club and attract good crowds. Their fans are also a special breed. If you are loyal and hardworking the Mackems fans love you. Depending on how well he does at the Stadium of Light he could also then earn a move to a bigger club.

All in all Connor Wickham moving to Sunderland could be ideal for everybody, including the player himself.

Will Connor Wickham be a good signing for Sunderland?

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Blues owner Yeung bailed

Birmingham City owner Carson Yeung has been released on bail after being charged with money laundering on Thursday.

A Hong Kong court charged the 51-year-old with five counts of ‘dealing with property known or believed to represent proceeds of indictable offences’ totalling about HK$721 million (57.5m pounds).

He was released on bail of HK$7 million (559,000 pounds) and the trial adjourned until August 11.

Birmingham City acting chairman Peter Pannu said in a statement the charges were not connected with the running of the Championship club.

“I have been informed that Carson is assisting (the police) with enquiries that have nothing to do with the operation of BIHL (Birmingham International Holdings Limited) in Hong Kong and therefore nothing to do with the operation of the club, and relate to other matters,” the statement on the club’s website read.

“People are reminded that in recent years members of the previous board were placed on bail for a significant amount of time and nothing came of it. I am only using this as an example to calm any fears.”

“The law says a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Until I find out more information about this matter there is no further comment to be made.”

Yeung’s lawyer Daniel Marash told reporters: “All they’re saying is that he has got a lot of money and he hasn’t paid a lot of tax.”

“I mean, there’s a lot of money in my bank account, not as much as his, but I don’t pay taxes because it’s not taxable.”

In April 2009, former chief executive Karren Brady and co-owner David Sullivan were arrested as part of an investigation into the Blues’ transfer activity. They were subsequently released without charge four months later.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Brazil Serie A wrap: Ronaldinho at the double for Flamengo

Ronaldinho made it three goals in two games after he struck a double in Flamengo’s 3-2 win at America Mineiro on Wednesday.

After bagging a goal in his side’s 4-1 win over Atletico Mineiro on Saturday, the former AC Milan and Barcelona star was on the scoresheet again as early as 10 minutes when he scored the opener for Flamengo.

But America Mineiro, who had just won five points in five matches heading into the match, hit back with two goals in seven minutes from Alessandro and Anderson to snatch a half-time lead.

It appeared that an upset was on the cards, but Deivid grabbed an equaliser 11 minutes into the second half to level proceedings.

Leanrdo Ferreira was given his second yellow card with 19 minutes remaining reducing America to 10 men, which gave the visitors an advantage in the dying stages.

And Ronaldinho made the most of the numerical advantage when he struck his second goal with just seven minutes remaining to hand Vanderlei Luxemburgo’s side a gutsy away win.

In other matches, Chicao’s 13th minute goal have Corinthians a 1-0 away victory at Bahia, a win which kept them top, while Sao Paulo lost their second match in a row, with strikes from Elkeson and German Herrera giving Botafogo a 2-0 win on the road.

Aloisio bagged a first-half double in Figueirense’s 2-1 win over Santos while goals in the last 20 minutes to Douglas and Rafael Marques saw Gremio sneak a point in a 2-2 draw against Avai.

The day’s other match saw Cruzeiro continue their resurgence, as they scored three second-half goals in a 3-0 win at Vasco Da Gama.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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MLS: Toronto 1 Vancouver Whitecaps 0

Toronto snapped a 10-game winless streak with a 1-0 home triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps in the MLS on Wednesday.

The Canadian club had slipped to the bottom of the Eastern Conference, but managed to climb to sixth with the slender victory, recorded in front of their home fans at the BMO Field.

Earlier in the day the club announced that had it signed two ‘designated players’, with German midfielder Torsten Frings and Dutch forward Danny Koevermans inking deals with the MLS outfit.

And the good news just kept coming for Toronto fans as they recorded a badly-needed victory.

The first 45 minutes failed to produce a goal as both sides went into the break level but nine minutes after the break, that all changed.

In his fourth appearance for the club, Dutch forward Nick Soolsma scored the all-important goal and despite some nervy moments towards the end, including several saves by goalkeeper Stefan Frei, Aron Winter’s side held on for the win.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Frings, Koevermans make MLS move

German midfielder Torsten Frings has been signed by Major League Soccer outfit Toronto FC.

The acquisition of Frings, 34, and Dutch forward Danny Koevermans, 32, was announced on Wednesday as the pair became two of Toronto’s ‘designated players’, meaning they can be paid outside the salary cap.

Frings was signed from Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, while Koevermans departs Eredivisie club PSV Eindhoven.

The MLS transfer window opens on July 15 and both Frings and Koevermans will be rushed into the squad as Toronto attempt to climb from the bottom of the Eastern Conference.

“We have added two very important players with significant experience and technical ability,” Toronto manager Aron Winter said in a statement.

“Torsten and Danny will make an immediate impact at our club. Signing Torsten and Danny is a very important step in building a team that our fans are proud to support.”

The players have signed ‘multi-year’ contracts according to Toronto, while financial terms of the contracts were not disclosed.

The signing of Frings is a definite boost to Toronto, with the experienced midfielder having won 79 caps for his country.

He played at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups and Euro 2008 with Germany, and turned down a coaching role at Werder Bremen and rumoured interest from Championship outfit Leeds United to sign with the MLS side.

Koevermans has played for his country four times and spent time at Sparta Rotterdam, AZ Alkmaar as well as PSV during his career.

Thu 30 June, 2011
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Jol prepares for David and Goliath clash

New Fulham manager Martin Jol will not be taking minnows NSI Runavik lightly when the two sides meet in the Europa League on Thursday.

The abnormally early start to the season comes due to Fulham’s participation in the first round of qualifying for the Europa League, after they topped the 2010/11 English Premier League Fair Play standings.

And while the club from Faroe Islands will be living the dream as they face Premier League opposition at Craven Cottage, Jol is not assuming that things will be easy.

“You can’t take it (Thursday’s match) lightly,” Jol told Fulham’s official website.

“It’s a European game and I think all the lads want to prove themselves. It’s a bit early in the season but I don’t see it being a problem. You play football to play in Europe and test yourself at that level.”

“We’ve got a couple of scouts in the Faroe Islands and they’ve provided us with some good footage.”

NSI Runavik finished third in the Faroe Islands Premier League last season and their team is made of largely of semi-professional players.

Jol, who only recently succeeded Mark Hughes as Fulham boss, also sang the praises of the club’s playing group for their attitude towards training and revealed that he may look to some of the Cottagers’ younger players to make a mark in Thursday’s first leg.

“I have to say they’re (the players) a fine bunch of lads,” he said.

“They work hard every day with smiles on their faces. The boys are quite fit and they’ve been very professional. They did their fitness programmes over the summer and we’ve tested them over the last four or five days. Bobby Zamora, who came in two days ago, looks really fit.”

“I can involve them all (on Thursday night) and there will be one or two younger players involved, even in the line-up.”

Thu 30 June, 2011
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