Milan relieve Inter of Muntari

AC Milan have confirmed the signing of Sulley Muntari on loan from city rivals Inter Milan for the remainder of the season.

Ghana international Muntari, who is away on Africa Cup of Nations duty, has featured just four times in Serie A for Inter this season.

Milan however believe he will provide valuable cover in midfield, particularly with new arrival Alexander Merkel ruled out for two months with a knee injury.

Inter signed Muntari from Portsmouth in 2008 for a fee of 14 million euros, but the player has struggled to justifying his price tag.

Muntari has been repeatedly linked with a move away from San Siro in recent months, with Napoli and Galatasaray both said to have expressed an interested in signing the 27 year old.

However, it is Milan who have now pounced after seeing Merkel join regular midfielders Gennaro Gattuso and Alberto Aquilani on the sidelines.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Sunderland get Bridge on loan

Sunderland have secured the loan signing of Wayne Bridge from Manchester City for the rest of the season.

The defender, capped 36 times by England, has played just once for City manager Roberto Mancini this term, against Birmingham in the Carling Cup, and was not named in their 25-man Champions League squad.

Sunderland boss Martin O’Neill moved for the defender after the his side’s defensive stocks were depleted by the loss of Wes Brown to a suspected medial ligament injury.

“I’m hoping that with Wayne’s ability and experience he can be a big help,” O’Neill said.

“I’m very pleased to have him here and with the number of injuries we’ve sustained recently I’m sure he’ll be a great help to us.”

Bridge was signed by former City boss Mark Hughes in January 2009 from Chelsea for 12 million pounds but the arrivals of Aleksander Kolarov and, more recently, Gael Clichy have limited his game time.

Aside from 15 appearances on loan at relegated West Ham last season, for City Bridge has managed only three Premier League appearances in the past two seasons.

Bridge, 31, started his career at home-town club Southampton in 1997 before sealing a seven million-pound move to Chelsea in 2003.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Gabon target Tunisia scalp

Africa Cup of Nations co-hosts Gabon are determined to beat Tunisia and avoid a quarter-final against favourites Ghana.

World Cup quarter-finalists in 2010, continental heavyweights Ghana will guarantee top spot in Group D with a point from their match against Guinea on Wednesday.

Gabon coach Gernot Rohr says the best outcome for his team in the knockout stages is to avoid the Black Stars, who have won both of their group games to date.

“We want to avoid Ghana, so we would like to finish top,” he said.

“That would mean also playing our quarter-final in Libreville, in this wonderful L’Amitie stadium with its fantastic crowd.”

“If we come in as runners-up we would have to go to Equatorial Guinea if we make it into the semi-finals. We will play Tunisia to win, but a draw will be sufficient as we have better goal difference than them.”

Gabon are ranked 77th in the world and 16th in Africa, but have played some impressive football at the tournament, especially in their second group game, a 2-0 win over Niger.

Still, Rohr is cautioning his team not to get ahead of themselves.

“We’re not pretending to be Brazil, we’re a very humble bunch, we have lots to improve, we have to keep our feet on the ground,” he said.

Gabon’s match against Tunisia is on Tuesday, a battle that will decide which team claims first place in Group D.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Motta nears PSG switch

Inter Milan have accepted a bid from Paris Saint-Germain for midfielder Thiago Motta, according to the player’s agent.

Motta’s represenative, Alessandro Canovi, claimed last week Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia clash with Napoli would be his client’s last outing for Inter, and the midfielder was duly left out of the squad to face Lecce on Sunday.

Inter coach Claudio Ranieri insisted after the game he had been given assurances that Motta, who is out of contract at the end of next season, would not be sold before the close of the transfer window.

Canovi has now revealed the move should be completed before the close of play on Tuesday evening.

“PSG and Inter have reached an agreement over Thiago Motta,” the agent is quoted as saying by Tuttomercatoweb.com.

“We’re missing only some minor details but there is time to finalise everything.”

“However, even if it does not end today, it will in July because the agreement is there now.”

Brazilian-born Motta, who has been capped six times by Italy, has made 45 Serie A appearances for Inter since arriving from Genoa in 2009.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Santini to replace Cisse at Freiburg

Croatian striker Ivan Santini has agreed to join Freiburg on a six-month loan deal from NK Zadar.

Santini, 22, has been linked with several Bundesliga clubs, with Cologne previously believed to be leading the race for his signature.

But on Monday, Stale Solbakken’s side instead opted to sign forward Jong Tae-Se, leaving Freiburg open to negotiate a deal.

The transfer is understood to have been completed and will be officially announced on Tuesday.

The player will sign with Freiburg on a initial six-month loan, after which Freiburg have the option to buy out his contract with Zadar.

Having scored 10 goals in 16 appearances so far this season, the former Croatia Under-19 man will attempt to replace Freiburg’s leading goalscorer Papiss Cisse, who joined Newcastle on January 17.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Schuster slams Mourinho tactics

Bernd Schuster has criticised Jose Mourinho for his team selection in the first leg of Real Madrid’s Copa del Rey loss to Barcelona.

A former Madrid player and coach, Schuster feels Mourinho made costly mistakes by including Ricardo Carvalho in his starting line-up, and using Pepe in midfield for the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Real gave up a 1-0 lead to lose 2-1 at home on January 18, and bowed out 4-3 on aggregate after a 2-2 draw in the return at Camp Nou a week later.

“I could hardly believe it when I saw the team selection,” Schuster told Onda Cero.

“No one knows what happened there. I’d really like to know what he (Mourinho) was thinking there.”

“Giving a player (Carvalho) the nod who hadn’t played a long time, and using Pepe in midfield. It was weird.”

“I think that we all agree that it was a mess that particular day. No disrespect to anybody, but it really was horrible, or whatever you want to call it.”

“It’s a real shame that this happened, because Madrid could have eliminated Barcelona there.”

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Paqueta hails Libya showing

Libya coach Marcos Paqueta has spoken about how proud he is of his team following their exit from the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Nicknamed the Mediterranean Knights, Libya beat Senegal 2-1 in their final Group A match on Sunday, ending the tournament with four points from the three matches, having drawn 2-2 with Zambia and losing 1-0 to co-hosts Equatorial Guinea.

Brazilian Paqueta is pleased with his team’s overall performance at the Afcon, despite their elimination at the group stage.

“I’m satisfied with the performance of my team,” he told Cafonline.

“Taking into consideration the condition back home, most of the players have been inactive due to the abandoning of the local league.”

“Mentally, it affected the players with the situation of their families back home.”

“The team got better match after match and that is a positive sign. They performed as expected.”

In the interest of continuity, Paqueta has asked the Libyan Football Federation to work on keeping his players together so they can deliver an improved showing in future competitions.

“After this performance, I am calling on the federation to support the team and help the players improve for the future,” he said.

Co-hosts Equatorial Guinea and Group A leaders Zambia have progressed to the quarter-finals, while Senegal finished bottom with no points from their three matches.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Tevez appeals to Premier League over fine

Carlos Tevez has appealed to the Premier League over Manchester City’s decision to fine him six weeks’ wages for his absence from the club.

The Argentine initially fell foul of manager Roberto Mancini when he allegedly refused to go on as a substitute during the club’s Champions League game against Bayern Munich in September.

Following the match – which City lost – the Italian boss said the former Manchester United forward would not feature under him as long as he remained at Eastlands, and the striker was banished from the first-team.

Tevez appealed against the 1.2 million-pound fine he was hit with, but his plea was thrown out in January after a hearing that involved two directors of the club.

Tevez, who turns 28 on Sunday, has now decided to exercise his right to take the matter to the Premier League, with the hearing expected to take place next month.

The marksman returned to Argentina in November and is yet to return to the club.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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No Roar escape for McKay

Ange Postecoglou has rejected reports linking out-of-favour Rangers midfielder Matt McKay with a return to Brisbane Roar.

Scottish website STV claimed this week the Roar were keen on bringing McKay back to the A-League.

But coach Postecoglou has denied making an approach for the former favourite, making it clear the club was in no position to sign the 29-year-old.

“I’m not convinced Matty (McKay) wants to leave at the moment,” Postecoglou said.

“There’s not enough certainty there for us to pursue it, but we’re working hard to bring someone in this period.”

“If he becomes a free agent, we’d obviously have a look into it. From our point of view unless there’s a clear indication he’d be released there’s no point talking about it.”

Rumours continue to surround the future of the Australia international, who has struggled to make an impact in Glasgow, registering only three first-team appearances so far this season.

McKay, who earlier this month rejected a loan move to Saudi Arabian outfit Al Ittihad, is reportedly determined to continue fighting for a starting spot in Ally McCoist’s side.

Having playing a key role in Brisbane’s victorious 2010-11 A-League premiership campaign and Australia’s surge to the 2011 Asian Cup final, the lack of competitive match time may now threaten McKay’s position in the national team.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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Sporting Gijon sack Preciado

Sporting Gijon have sacked manager Manuel Preciado in the wake of Sunday’s 5-1 thrashing at Real Sociedad in La Liga.

With the club languishing in 19th place and without a win in seven league games, an emotional club president Manuel Vega-Arango announced Preciado’s dismissal on Tuesday.

“Maybe it’s the same thing, but I don’t want to call it firing or sacking, I want to call it a change on the bench,” Vega-Arango said.

Preciado, 54, was one of La Liga’s most charismatic figures and was revered at Gijon, having guided the club back to the top flight at the end of the 2007/08 campaign for the first time since 1998.

He had been at the helm since 2006, making him the longest serving coach in La Liga, but with only 18 points in 20 matches this season, the board decided change was needed.

Preciado’s assistant Inaki Tejada is expected to take charge for Sunday’s game against Osasuna.

It has been reported former Getafe coach Michel, who is currently out of work, is in line to fill the post permanently.

Tue 31 January, 2012
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