Redknapp: King will stay

Tottenham manager Harry Redknapp says club captain Ledley King will be offered a new contract with the north London outfit.

The England defender has made just 11 appearances for Spurs this season and reports suggested he would need to make a minimum of 20 to earn himself a new contract, with his current deal set to expire at the end of the season.

But Redknapp has rubbished the reports, claiming the 31-year-old has become ‘part of the furniture’ at White Hart Lane.

“I’d always give him a contract – it wouldn’t be a question,” Redknapp said.

“If it’s me, it’s not a problem, he’d be here forever – he’s part of the furniture, he’s a big part of this club and I’m sure the chairman as well will make sure he looks after him.”

“I don’t see Ledley leaving here, he hasn’t got to play 20 games. I felt that if he’s not going to play that amount of games, from a playing point of view it becomes difficult.”

“But if he plays 12, 14 or 16 I don’t think anyone’s going to go, ‘Well you didn’t reach 20′.”

“I think there’s enough goodwill towards Ledley here for what he’s been and what he is. And if he only plays 10 games, the chances are you might win those 10.”

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Mancini tells Balotelli to butt out

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has urged Mario Balotelli to stop smoking, saying he would ‘give him a kick up the a***’ if he was his father.

The Italian boss confessed to being aware of Balotelli’s smoking habit, saying he smokes around ‘five or six’ cigarettes a day.

Although Mancini is keen for his striker to kick the habit, he says he is not in a position to be able to force him to stop.

When told of the Italian’s habit, Mancini replied: “Yeah, yeah, I know this, I know he smokes.”

“It’s not okay but I’m not his father or his mother. If he was my son I would give him a kick up the a*** but he’s not.”

“I told him it’s better you don’t smoke. I’m against cigarettes, always. For this reason my son doesn’t smoke.”

“But I don’t think he smokes a lot – maybe five or six a day. But I told him (he should stop).”

City currently sit top of the Premier League ahead of city rivals United on goal difference.

Despite his side’s comprehensive 6-1 victory over United in October, Mancini is aware of the threat their rivals will pose in their bid for the title.

“If we want to win this title we will try to win every game because United are very strong,” said Mancini.

“They are used to being at the top for a long time. But I don’t think for us it makes any difference whether we are on the top or behind by one point.”

“In the end it could be United are better than us, but we will be okay if we focus on the next 20 games and think positively in difficult moments.”

“In every championship every team has a difficult moment. United have had only one, which was against us. But there will be difficult moments again for United, us and Tottenham.”

United’s injury woes have been well documented, and Mancini confessed his side cannot afford to have similar problems.

“United have four or five important players injured. If we were to get that problem it will be a big problem,” he said.

“Probably they are better than us, but we want to win this title and we will do everything to win it.”

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Fiorentina players farewell Gilardino

Two Fiorentina players have released messages of support to team-mate Alberto Gilardino ahead of his proposed move to Genoa.

The Italy international striker has undergone a medical at the Liguria-based club and is widely expected to leave Florence in January for a fee of eight million euros.

Despite being disappointed to see the ex-AC Milan forward leave the Stadio Artemio Franchi, Valon Behrami and Alessio Cerci have wished the 29-year-old well.

“They took away Gilardino, how sad. Good luck and thank you for everything,” the Swiss midfielder wrote on Twitter.

The goalkeeper added: “I am sorry you are leaving. It was an honour to have played at your side, good luck Gilardino.”

The World Cup-winning attacker is believed to be on the verge of signing a four-year deal with Pasquale Marino’s men, but the move has not been made official as yet.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Ranieri hails Sneijder´s leadership

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri has spoken of the importance of playmaker Wesley Sneijder as a leader of the team.

The Netherlands international has been linked with a move away from the Milan club, with Manchester United supposed suitors.

Despite this, the 60-year-old was full of praise for the former Real Madrid man and feels that the attacking midfielder gives his side direction.

“Sneijder is our prize jewel,” Ranieri told Mediaset.

“He has to give 120 percent. He mustn’t just be part of the squad; he has to be our leader, the one who takes us by the hand and shows us the way to great things.”

The Rome-born coach took over from Gian Piero Gasperini after the disastrous start to the current campaign, and has led the Giuseppe Meazza outfit from the lower echelons of the Serie A standings to fifth place at the winter break.

Ranieri feels that his work ethic is evident with the players and fans, which will make him a favourite at the club.

“If you ask me why the Inter fans have taken to me so quickly, all I can think of is that they must like my attitude to hard work – I’ve got my head down and focused on sorting Inter out,” he said.

“I have a strong character, I say what I think and with age my defects have worsened … I joined Inter at a difficult time when the team were up to their necks but I also saw determination and a sense of belonging.”

“It annoyed me when I heard people saying these players were old and wise, and I remained calm even when we lost because I could see how they worked.”

Inter take on Parma on January 7 upon the resumption of Serie A, and will look to continue their assault towards the summit of the Italian top flight.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Chile stars regret baptism affair

Chile coach Claudio Borghi has revealed that Arturo Vidal and Gonzalo Jara are repentant for their role in the ‘Baptism Five’ affair.

The two stars, along with Jean Beausejour, Carlos Carmona and Jorge Valdivia, were hit with 10-match suspensions after returning late and in an ‘inadequate state’ to Chile’s training base before their World Cup qualifying match against Uruguay in November.

Without the five, who had attended the baptism of Valdivia’s daughter, the nation fell to a 4-0 defeat against the Celeste before bouncing back with victory over Paraguay.

Speaking on Friday, Borghi explained that West Brom’s Jara and Juventus’ Vidal had made their peace with the decision and regretted their involvement, and that he accepted their apologies.

“I have spoken directly with Vidal and Jara … I get the feeling that they are very sorry for all that has happened, from their misbehaviour up to the advice they received after the press conference,” the coach told Radio ADN.

“After hearing everything they said, they realised that they messed up badly and not just with me, but also with the whole nation.”

The coach is yet to speak to Carmona, Beausejour and Valdivia, the latter of the group having launched a formal complaint to the ANFP over the severity of his punishment.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Monterrey´s Vucetich blasts wantaway Suazo

Monterrey coach Victor Vucetich has launched a stinging attack on Chile international Humberto Suazo.

Vucetich declared that Suazo, who is keen to leave Monterrey as soon as possible, will need a whole new attitude if he wishes to return to the Mexican club.

Boca Juniors has emerged as a possible destination for the ex-Colo Colo and Zaragoza striker. He is currently absent from Monterrey while the club define whether he will stay in Mexico for 2012 or be released to another team.

Vucetich, however, left no doubt that he was furious with Suazo’s conduct, and vowed that he would not be allowed near the first team unless he showed vast improvements.

“Logically he will not participate in the sporting side of things, he is not fit to do so,” he said when asked if he would play the star in his side’s first match of 2012, which takes place on January 7 at home to Jaguares.

“We are doing well with the squad we have, we do not depend on one player.”

Monterrey took fifth place in December’s Club World Cup, beating Esperance of Tunisia 3-2.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Napoli chief rule out January signings

Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon has revealed that the club will not be signing any more players in January.

The Azzurri are set to complete the signing of Chilean prospect Eduardo Vargas, but that will be their first and final signing in January.

“Vargas’ is a purchase taken with advanced perspective. Where we have great players, we have added one more piece,” Napoli sporting director Riccardo Bigon told SkycSport24.

“However, other departments on the pitch are completely covered, with excellent reserves and replacements besides those in the first team.

“It is a team that, considering the early-season objectives, has no need for new faces.”

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Eredivisie star flattered by growing interest in his services

NAC Breda midfielder Robert Schilder has welcomed reports linking him with Twente and AZ Alkmaar.

The 25-year-old, who can also play as a left-back, has been attracting a lot of attention with his displays this season.

Dutch giants Twente and AZ Alkmaar have already shown interest in his services, and Schilder admits he is proud to be linked with such big clubs.

“I have a contract for eighteen months with NAC and last week I learned of the two teams that follow me,” Schilder told Voetbal International.

“That is a compliment, because both Twente and AZ are top clubs.”

Robert Schilder started as a left-back at NAC Breda after arriving from Ajax, but he has really profited from being moved further up front.

The player scored 4 goals and set up 3 more in 17 Eredivisie games this season.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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Stuttgart rules out Molinaro switch to Milan

Stuutgart chief Fredi Bobic has denied speculations that full-back Cristian Molinaro is set to join Milan.

The 28-year-old defender was recently linked with a move to San Siro, but Stuttgart are not prepared to let him leave.

“There is no discussion. This is not an issue,” Stuttgart general manager Fredi Bobic told Bild.

With other left-back Artur Boka set to miss four weeks of action while on international duty, Stuttgart cannot afford to lose Molinaro as well.

“Artur Boka will be at African Cup of Nations for four weeks. Gotoku Sakai can indeed play left and right defender, but he must be slowly integrated into the squad, as he finds his way in Bundesliga.”

Sat 31 December, 2011
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NFL calling for Bowl-winning Griffin

Quarterback Robert Griffin III has given NFL fans a taste of what is to come after helping Baylor win the Alamo Bowl.

Baylor clinched the Bowl clash over Washington 67-56 in the highest-scoring College final in history, but the match loomed as a potential farewell for Griffin III as he prepares to be drafted into the NFL.

Griffin, 21, claimed the Heisman Trophy earlier in December after being voted the best College player this season, but he modestly palmed the attention away from himself in the post-match press conference, stating it was a breakthrough win for the Texas university.

“I want Baylor nation to enjoy this. It’s not about me. I’ve got about two weeks. I’ll enjoy this the next day, and then the next day, and then I’ll make it,” Griffin said of Baylor’s win, the College’s first Bowl triumph since 1992.

Griffin threw just one touchdown and ran for another in the high-scoring contest, in a lesser display from the playmaker.

Washington quarterback Keith Price threw for four TDs and ran for three more scores.

The previous bowl record in regulation time was 102 points set in 2001 between Marshall and East Carolina.

Sat 31 December, 2011
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