Barcelona tracking Joao Pereira

Barcelona are keeping tabs on Sporting Lisbon full back Joao Pereira, according to Cadena Ser.

The Catalans are reportedly showing interest in the Portuguese international and are even pondering a January bid for the player.

Pep Guardiola is eager to find cover for Dani Alves and he believes the Sporting Lisbon stalwart would be a perfect addition to the squad.

Barcelona had the player watched in the Lisbon derby between Benfica and Sporting last weekend.

However, the Catalans could face competition from other interested clubs, such as Milan, PSG, Villarreal and Schalke.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Kelly thrilled with maiden goal

Liverpool defender Martin Kelly says he hopes to score more goals for the club after he opened his account against Chelsea on Tuesday.

The 21-year-old completed the scoring in the Reds’ 2-0 win at Stamford Bridge, a victory which sees them into the semi-finals of the Carling Cup.

The right-back said he was delighted to open his account for the club, made all the more special for it being in front of the travelling Liverpool contingent.

“I was made up with the goal and it was a long time coming getting my first one for Liverpool,” Kelly told the club’s official website.

“It was a great cross from Craig (Bellamy) and I managed to get a free header. We were attacking at the end with all the away supporters and it was brilliant seeing all their emotions as they celebrated. It’s fantastic to get a goal for such a big club.”

“I scored a couple of goals for the England U21s recently and it was great to score against Chelsea and help us reach the semi-final of the Carling Cup.”

“We have beaten Chelsea twice now in the space of a few weeks and it was a great team effort out there.”

“We definitely deserved to win. With the possession we had in the first half, we knew the goal was coming and we are delighted to get the victory.”

Liverpool’s win over Chelsea sees them just two games away from the final, and Kelly confesses it would be a dream come true to play at Wembley.

He continued: “We’re looking forward to the semi-finals and hopefully getting to the final at Wembley.”

“If you ask any young lad, they dream of one day playing in a final at Wembley and I’m no different.”

“I can’t wait for the next round and hopefully I’ll be a part of that.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Dropped points disappoint Pandev

Napoli striker Goran Pandev said it was disappointing that his side relinquished a 3-1 lead against league-leaders Juventus on Tuesday.

The Macedonia international started in place of Edinson Cavani for Walter Mazzarri’s men against the current Serie A leaders and bagged a brace to give the home team a two-goal cushion.

However, Antonio Conte’s side fought back to salvage a 3-3 draw, and Pandev felt the result was a case of two points lost rather than a point gained.

“It is a shame that we have not brought home the three points,” the 28-year-old told Tuttosport.

“We had a great first half but we play every three days and our concentration at the end dropped against a big team like Juve.”

Pandev is currently on loan at Napoli from Inter after a frustrating 2010-11 campaign, and he is eager to prove his fitness and form to the club which he thanks for showing faith in him.

“My condition was a problem; looking back at my last year at Inter we can see that I have not played much,” he said.

“Here I have worked hard to become injury-free. I have to thank the president, the coach and the director, as they really wanted me in Naples.”

The result means that Napoli are nine points behind pace-setters Juventus in the Serie A standings ahead of their home match against Lecce on Saturday.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Cesar: Inter ´surprised´ by poor start

Inter Milan goalkeeper Julio Cesar admits his side’s slow start to the 2011-12 season has shocked the squad.

After Gian Piero Gasperini took charge in the off-season, the Milanese outfit lost a number of fixtures that they would have expected to win, with results only now starting to pick up under new coach Claudio Ranieri.

Inter still languish in 12th place in Serie A, however, 12 points off the pace, but the Brazil international is hopeful that his side can continue their march up the table.

“We were surprised ourselves by what has happened at the start of the season,” the 32-year-old told Tuttomercatoweb.

“Since I arrived here in 2005 we have never been down in the bottom half of the standings, we always have been at the top.”

“We are not thinking about the Scudetto, and take every game as it comes.”

Despite Inter not currently threatening the frontrunners in the race for the Serie A title, Cesar said he had no thought of leaving Milan.

“I am happy at the club. I have a contract until 2014 and do not want to change this,” he insisted.

“I just want to win here, we’re used to it. We hope to lift a trophy at the end of the season.”

Inter face a crunch match against high-flying Udinese on Saturday, and will look to close the gap on one of the league’s top teams.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Pirates look to jump-start title defence

Midfielder Isaac Chansa is hoping a win over Ajax Cape Town on Wednesday can reignite Orlando Pirates’ Premier Soccer League campaign.

Chansa, who played a key role in Pirates’ 3–1 victory over Golden Arrows in last weekend’s Telkom Knockout Cup semi-final, said both teams will be under immense pressure for maximum points because of their inconsistent performances so far this season.

While both teams are on 15 points after 11 matches, eighth placed Pirates are a place above Ajax because of a better goal aggregate.

Speaking to KickOff.com, Chansa advised his team-mates to forget about their victory over Arrows and focus on grabbing all the three points on Wednesday.

“We played over the weekend so the fitness levels are still quite high for a number of players,” Chansa said.

“We have been training well and the coach knows that we do not need a lot of motivation when playing against teams like Ajax.”

“The match will be a potentially explosive encounter. Both Pirates and Ajax are big clubs in South Africa so it is good for football because it is the fans who will benefit from the action. We know that Ajax will come hard at us.”

“Like Ajax, we find ourselves in the middle of the table so it is important that we win this match.”

“We have not been consistent in our matches and we have to rectify this. It is a home match so we have to make our supporters happy.”

Chansa said while he is happy his side have qualified for the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup, the defence of the club’s league title is also very important to him.

“Yes, I am happy that we are in the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup but for now we have to be level headed and forget about that success because this one is not a Cup game,” said Chansa.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Nasri, Frimpong escape punishment

Emmanuel Frimpong and Samir Nasri will not face any further action for their altercation after the Carling Cup match at the Emirates.

There was a heated exchange between the pair after Manchester City’s 1-0 win over Arsenal on Tuesday night which carried on into the tunnel.

An Arsenal spokesman said of the incident: “Words were exchanged – that was that, there were no punches thrown but there was a lot of noise.”

“Samir was speaking in French and Mani wasn’t. It was handbags but they didn’t even touch.”

Frimpong had criticised Nasri over the summer following his move to the Etihad Stadium.

Replying to a tweet from Jack Wilshere, who had wished the Frenchman well and thanked him for developing his game, Frimpong replied: “Pfff, come on Jack.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Ligue 1 star drops Arsenal hint; Inter deny interest in Carlos Tevez

Ligue 1 star drops Arsenal hint

Lille striker Moussa Sow has revealed his desire to play in the English Premier League.

The highly rated forward is wanted by a number of big European clubs and he could leave Lille for a big club in the near future.

The 25-year-old has just over a year and a half left on his deal with Ligue 1 champions, but admits he is unlikely to sign a new deal.

“I have a contract signed until June 2013 and Lille want me to sign another contract but the negotiations have stopped,“ Sow told Radio Monte Carlo.

“I don’t accept the conditions or the silence from the club. That’s not me putting on pressure, just the truth. I’m only thinking about football and it’s not possible to leave in January.“

The player who finished as Ligue 1 top goalscorer last season says that he dreams of playing in the Premier League.

“But my dream is to play in the Premier League, because you progress as a player with the atmosphere, goals and game.

“I watch the games with envy on TV. I desire to play there one day. Arsenal are a big club. But we will see.”

Inter deny interest in Carlos Tevez

Serie A giants Inter have denied rumours that they will make a bid for Carlos Tevez in January.

The Argentine striker is set to leave Manchester City and Inter have been mentioned as one of the interested clubs.

The Neroazzurri coach Claudio Ranieri recently hinted that he could add a couple of new players to the squad in January.

However, Massimo Moratti has now revealed that Inter will not be making a bid for Tevez.

“I can exclude a big signing in January,” Moratti told La Gazzetta dello Sport on Wednesday morning.

“The Financial Fair Play rules will be in the minds of everyone. Saying that, I am aware that I have responsibilities as the president and a fan of this team.”

Interest in Tevez is still high, with AC Milan chiefs revealing they were prepared to sign the player on loan in January.

Valencia open talks for Ajax star

Valencia are weighing up a move for Ajax full-back Gregory van der Wiel, Super Deportes claims.

Los Che are searching for a new right-back as they are not entirely satisfied with the performances of Portuguese defender Miguel.

The Spanish giants have been tracking Ajax defender Gregory van der Wiel and are now ready to step up their interest.

According to Super Deportes, Valencia chiefs met with the player’s representatives regarding a January move to Mestalla.

The Netherlands international has a contract until June 2013 at Amsterdam ArenA, but Ajax could decide to cash in on him in the winter.

The player is reportedly considering his options and he could be interested in the move to Mestalla.

For more news about football transfers and rumours, visit our Transfer News section. To view all football transfers for 2011/12 season, visit our Soccer Transfers section.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Dalglish praises ´fantastic´ Bellamy

Kenny Dalglish praised the attitude of Craig Bellamy after the grieving forward played a key role in Liverpool’s Carling Cup victory over Chelsea.

Bellamy was withdrawn from the Liverpool squad for Sunday’s English Premier League match against Manchester City following the death of Wales manager Gary Speed.

Speed was a friend and former team-mate of Bellamy.

The 32-year-old returned to the team on Tuesday, helping to set up both goals as Liverpool defeated Chelsea 2-0 at Stamford Bridge, booking their place in the Carling Cup semi-finals.

“We know he’s a fantastic footballer,” Dalglish said of the well-travelled front man.

“He had a hugely disappointing day on Sunday. Speedo, who he regarded as a mentor, passed away.”

“To come back and play like that, and for any of the players that have been a friend of his to have played over the weekend or have played tonight elsewhere, it speaks volumes for him because he was very well liked and very well respected.”

“So for the wee man (Bellamy) it is great for him, making the first goal as well.”

While pleased to reach the last four of the Carling Cup, Dalglish continued his criticism of the competition’s scheduling, which has forced several teams to endure quick turnarounds between matches.

“The way we’re progressing is very significant in any cup, especially a cup that’s been cheapened by the actions of the people who run it,” he said.

“But we just brush ourselves down. We’ve got our reward and look forward to the next game.”

“I know we’re in the semi-final. At least we’ve got a home game now. Three teams in the quarter-finals have got problems with fixtures and that’s totally irresponsible.”

The victory over Chelsea did not come without a cost with Liverpool losing the services of in-form holding player Lucas Leiva during the match.

The Brazil midfielder was stretchered off in the second half.

“He’s damaged his knee,” Dalglish said.

“We’re not sure how it is. We don’t know what it is. Rather than speculate, we’ll best get a proper synopsis. We’ll need to get it scanned.”

Wed 30 November, 2011
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You can never write off Manchester United

With all the talk about Manchester City and their Premier League domination this season their city rivals Manchester United have rather taken a backseat.

United have become the dominant force in recent years, the team beat. However they currently find themselves five points behind their mega-rich rivals.

Cup

United face Crystal Palace in the quarter finals of the Carling Cup tonight and some have suggested that the league cup takes on a bigger meaning because of City’s dominance. Sir Alex Ferguson obviously doesn’t’t feel the same way as he is set to field some of his youngsters.

Patience

The United players don’t believe they should be written off just yet. Midfielder Michael Carrick told Sky Sports: “With United, it always seems to be the case that if you lose a game or have an indifferent match or two the roof caves in, or that is what people on the outside think,”

“We have been here before. We have had bad results and bad runs, a lot worse than the one we are on at the minute. Experience tells us to be patient. People can write us off if they want but hopefully we will be there at the end of the season.”

Experience

Carrick is right Manchester United are accustomed to this situation. United haven’t got up to full speed yet. They have been there and got the t-shirt when it comes to challenging for the Premier League title. They have far greater experience of this situation than Manchester City have.

The Manchester United’s player experience of challenging for the big trophies down the years has meant that they never give up till the end and it’s a reason why the club have been so successful.

Slip-up

Manchester City have looked in good form this season and do look like they could win the Premier League title. However I’m sure Manchester United will be right on their heels if they do slip-up. The Red Devils will compete till the last kick of the season.

Every club has a slump in form at some point. With Manchester City though they have two sets of players, so if players are suffering a dip in form City boss Roberto Mancini can rotate his squad. The key factor will be can they handle the pressure?

Form

There is reasons to be optimistic as a Manchester United fan because this is the time of the year  that United have found their top form in recent seasons. The champions form this season has been decent but its not been outstanding.

Any other season though they would have probably been top of the Premier League table. However their neighbours have been in such outstanding form that they have had to settle for second for much of the season.

Quality

Manchester United will always be there or thereabouts in the title race because they have such quality players. The likes of Wayne Rooney, Ashley Young and Nani are top attacking players that can win games on their own.

However they have in some games lacked a bit of midfield creativity and Sir Alex Ferguson has even played Rooney in midfield to try and solve the problem. I’m just wondering if Fergie now regrets not signing a creative midfielder in the summer.

The Scot hasn’t got many things wrong as United boss but it looks increasing likely that he made the wrong decision over signing a creative midfielder. That is likely to corrected in the near future.

Difficult

One thing you can be sure of with Manchester United is that the winning habit never goes away. The champions very rarely go two games without winning. United as a club are accustomed to winning games and trophies and that doesn’t just disappear overnight.

Manchester United won’t make it easy for Manchester City to win the Premier League this season and I think they will push the Citizens all the way. I have learnt from watching football in the last 20 years that you can never write off Manchester United.

Can Manchester United win the Premier League?

Wed 30 November, 2011
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Berlusconi to return to Milan

Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi intends to regain full control of Serie A champions AC Milan.

Berlusconi first bought the club in 1986, staving off bankruptcy and overseeing an era of considerable success.

Now 75, Berlusconi stood down from his role as club president in 2008, when he began his third term as Italian PM.

He resigned from the Italian government earlier this month, with his priorities apparently returning to football.

“I will take back AC Milan’s presidency as soon as possible,” Berlusconi said.

“I am the president who has won the biggest number of titles in the world.”

“(Santiago) Bernabeu, who is second, behind me, won half of my titles.”

Berlusconi’s claim about being the most successful president is incorrect.

Milan have won 28 individual trophies during his reign, but Pinto da Costa has seen Porto lift 51 titles since he took charge of the club in 1982.

Wed 30 November, 2011
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