Schalke boss coming to terms with losing Raul and Farfan

Schalke manager Huub Steven admits that the club cannot prevent star players Raul Gonzalez and Jefferson Farfan from leaving the club in the summer.

The two players have contracts that are set to expire at the end of the season and are unlikely to sign new deals with the Miners.

Even the Schalke boss is skeptical about the player’s future at Veltins Arena.

“I only count on them until the summer,” Stevens told German newspaper Sport Bild.

“With Jefferson and Raul I have no illusions. If clubs come with good financial backing then there is little chance (of holding onto them).”

The Spanish veteran has been offered a one-year extension, but his hefty wage and offers from China and Saudi Arabia could prove to be a stumbling block.

The club chiefs are also not satisfied with Raul’s showings in big games and everything suggests the former Real Madrid captain is set to leave at the end of the season.

Jefferson Farfan has made his mind about leaving the club early into the season and after being informed of the player’s decision, Schalke chiefs recruited Nigerian forward Chinedu Obasi as a replacement.

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Podolski agrees personal terms with Arsenal; Kallstrom drops Rubin Kazan hint

Podolski agrees personal terms with Arsenal

Arsenal have agreed personal terms with Koln forward Lukas Podolski, according to German newspaper Bild .

The 26-year-old striker is heavily tipped to leave Germany at the end of the season as he is eager to join a bigger club.

The Germany international has just over a year left on his deal with the Billy Goats and summer transfer window is the last opportunity for Koln to cash in on their prized asset.

According to Bild, Podolski has agreed to join Arsenal at the end of the season, but the two clubs have yet to agree on the transfer fee.

The same source claims Koln are holding out for €18 million, which is few million less than Bayern Munich offered them last year.

The Bavarians had a €23 million offer rejected for Podolski and they eventually decided to pursue other targets.

It is now Arsenal that appear to be winning the race for the highly rated forward who score 15 goals in 19 Bundesliga games this season.

Kallstrom drops Rubin Kazan hint

Lyon midfielder Kim Kalsstrom remains open to a possibility of joining Rubin Kazan at the end of the season.

The Russian Premier League outfit attempted to sign the Swedish international earlier this month, but Lyon rejected their offer.

“They (Lyon) said no,” Kallstrom explained to Sportbladet.

The Swedish midfielder admits he was ready to join the Russian giants.

“It would have certainly been exciting. It would have been a challenge and they have bigger financial means than Lyon.”

When asked whether he was still interested in joining Rubin, Kallstrom replied:

“Why not?”

Meanwhile, Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas has confirmed that the player’s position will be reviewed in the summer.

“We’ll see then. Every summer he shuffles his cards. But, it is clear that the conditions are always different in off season.”

The 29-year-old is considered an important part of the squad at Gerland, having started 21 Ligue 1 games this season.

Guidetti set for Manchester City return

Swedish striker John Guidetti has a future at Etihad Stadium, Manchester City coach David Platt has confirmed.

The youngster is currently on loan at Feyenoord and his scintillating performances this season have seen him attract attention from major European clubs.

Bayern Munich have confirmed their interest in the 19-year-old earlier this month, but Manchester City are eager to hold on to the forward.

“There is a future for John,” Manchester City coach David Platt told Manchester Evening News. “The boy has got ability. We gave him a new contract last year because we believed he had the ability.

“It was always on the cards he would go out on loan somewhere. When players go out on loan you don’t know how they are going to cope with it, what is going to happen.

“You have to say that has been a very successful loan for John, he is doing exceptionally well. He is creating a lot of attention because of the goals he is scoring – and not only scoring but making as well.”

“We were aware of his ability, and we believe the year he will have had at Feyenoord will bear him in good stead for us next year,”

Guidetti has really exploded this season, having scored 18 goals and set up five more in 16 Eredivisie games.

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 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Is it coincidence that so many players pull out of friendly games?

Liverpool full-back Glen Johnson is the latest player to pull out of the England squad to face Holland in tonight‘s friendly at Wembley.

He is just one of a long list of England players to have withdrawn from Stuart Pearce’s so called ‘experimental’ England side.

Genuine

It’s hard to tell if these players have genuine injuries or not because their clubs pull them out of the squads over a broken fingernail. There are exceptions of course with the likes of Darren Bent, who was desperately unlucky to sustain a long-term injury at the weekend.

Clubs

As far as I know it only really happens with English players. Clubs don’t seem to protect their foreign players as they do their English ones. Maybe it’s because the foreign players are more keen to represent their countries and tell the clubs that they want to play in friendly matches.

At the end of the day the clubs pay the players wages but surely the players should be making an effort to be in the England squad ahead of the European Championship in the summer?

Overlooked

If Stuart Pearce was naming an experimental squad as he claims for tonight’s game against Holland, he should have given more new players a chance to impress on the international stage. There are quite a few players that have impressed this season at smaller clubs but have been overlooked.

The Swansea front three is a good example. Danny Graham, Nathan Dyer and Scott Sinclair have played a key role in the Swans debut Premier League season. I’m sure all three players would have been delighted to be called up to the senior England team, even if it was only for a friendly game.

Graham has scored ten goals this season and at 26 isn’t exactly old. With England’s striking problems it wouldn’t have hurt to give him a chance. Norwich skipper Grant Holt has also scored ten times this season and was disappointed not to be selected in the squad. Maybe the striker’s chance has now gone.

Honour

England players pulling out of squads for friendly games injured is nothing new. It’s just amazing how quickly they recover to play for their club teams in their next game.

It should be a honour to represent your country. I’m sure some of the players who have pulled out are genuinely injured but I’m also sure that club bosses are protecting their own interests by their players not playing for their country.

Respect

You just have to ask yourself if Harry Redknapp or any other respected boss was in charge of the England team for this game would so many players have pulled out? I don’t think they would have done.

Players know that Stuart Pearce is just a stopgap while England try to wrestle Harry Redknapp away from his job at Tottenham. However this game could become more important if Pearce is allowed to continue in the job until after Euro 2012.

This game could help him decide which players he wants to take to Poland and Ukraine. One game won’t be enough to convince him of players qualities but it could firm up some things in his mind.

Competitive

I’m sure tonight’s game will be very competitive. Holland are one of the best teams in the world and it should be a good game for the fans. It’s just a shame that so many England players will be missing. I’m sure those players won’t be missing when the Euro 2012 squad is announced though.

Do players still see it as a honour to represent their country?

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Griffiths joins Guangzhou

Central Coast Mariners have sold midfielder Rostyn Griffiths to Chinese powerhouse Guangzhou Evergrande.

Griffiths left Australia for China on Tuesday to undertake a medical. If he satisfies Guangzhou R&F’s requirements he will join the CSL newcomers for two seasons.

The deal reportedly stands to earn the Mariners a transfer fee of upwards of $800,000 – a huge boost for the financially troubled club.

Mariners chairman Peter Turnbull said the transfer represented a lucrative opportunity for Griffiths and the club.

“This is a great opportunity for Rostyn – a young player who has blossomed under Graham Arnold – to set himself up for life,” Turnbull said.

“It also represented an opportunity for us as a football club to secure a very substantial transfer fee that may not be repeated.”

“Rostyn had previously advised us that he never intended to play for any other Hyundai A-League club, but he was determined to pursue his career overseas,” he said.

Mariners coach Graham Arnold said that from a football perspective it was disappointing to lose Griffiths but the opportunity for player and club was significant.

“It’s fantastic for the club but I am disappointed to lose a player of Rostyn’s quality at this time of the season,” he said.

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Tevez in line for Swansea return

Carlos Tevez could return against Swansea City in the Premier League on March 11 after playing 45 minutes for Manchester City’s reserve side.

Reserves coach David Platt oversaw the Argentine’s first football since his return to Manchester as his side were beaten 3-1 by Preston reserves in a rescheduled match at City’s Carrington training ground on Tuesday.

The venue switch was orchestrated to ward off media attention with the match, played behind closed doors, originally scheduled for Wednesday at Chorley.

Platt withdrew Tevez at half-time before his team-mates went on to lose, and, having echoed Roberto Mancini’s sentiments a day earlier, said a potential return against Swansea would provide plenty of competition for places.

“Carlos is back and he’s training. The manager (Mancini) has said he could be ready for the Swansea game in a fortnight, but it could be a little longer than that,” Platt said before the reserves match.

He then told the Manchester Evening News that Tevez’s addition to an attacking quartet of Sergio Aguero, Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli, who have scored 52 goals between them in all competitions, would only be a positive.

“The strikers have all had a threat to their place all season,” he said.

“I don’t think there’s been one occasion when all three have been on the pitch at one time so there is a threat to their places anyway, just as there is a threat to everybody else’s place in the team.”

Tevez last played for City in September before his infamous spat with Mancini in a Champions League match with Bayern Munich saw him suspended by the club.

He has been on a modified training program with Mancini putting a three-week return date on his comeback.

Platt could not confirm whether it would be against Swansea or how the City fans would react.

“I don’t know how the fans will react to him. I think we and Carlos have to cross that bridge when we come to it,” Platt said.

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Dabao to set China transfer record

Young China international star Yu Dabao has joined newly-promoted Dalian Aerbin from Tianjin Teda for 2.35 million euros.

Titan Sports reported the fee for the 23-year-old former Benfica attacking midfielder which is a record for a local Chinese player moving from one Super League club to another.

Yu Dabao, who scored the winning goal in the 2011 Chinese FA Cup final, has been linked with a move away from Tianjin Teda throughout the off-season.

The China international almost joined big-spending champions Guangzhou Evergrande, but they pulled out of the race, paving the way for Aerbin’s move.

Yu Dabao had been left out of the Tianjin side for last weekend’s Chinese Super Cup loss to Guangzhou, as the move loomed likely.

The attacker, who also trialled with MLS club Dallas in early 2010, scored for China in last week’s 2-1 win over Kuwait.

Meanwhile, former Socceroo Mile Sterjovski is also set to join Aerbin from A-League club Perth Glory.

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Lebanon on brink of qualifying glory

Lebanon coach Theo Bucker says UAE football is ‘light years ahead’ of his adopted nation.

Bucker, however, has been delighted with Lebanon’s rise in the past six months as they prepare to face UAE in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday in their final third round 2014 World Cup qualifier.

If Lebanon gain a result, they will seal their place in the fourth and final round of World Cup qualifying through Asia for the first time.

German-born Bucker told the Beirut Daily Star he’s been delighted to see Lebanon’s emergence, after losing their opening match 6-0 to Korea, before recording famous wins over Kuwait and the Taeguk Warriors.

“We in Lebanon are still wondering about the change in the last six months,” Bucker said.

“Nobody was noticing us now we are looked at in a completely different way.”

“Personally I’m very proud of this. I was always convinced about the quality of our players. We were good enough and lucky enough in our qualification group to go out and to achieve all of these good results.”

And Bucker said the UAE, who are pointless in the group, had an organisation which was ‘light years ahead’ of Lebanon, but still remained confident of a win.

“We are trying to get a very good result, especially if you are comparing the two organisations, football in the UAE is light years ahead of Lebanese football,” Bucker said.

Bucker does have a few headaches for the UAE clash with star man Roda Antar out suspended.

“He is the boss. Every player looks up to him, he is their leader,” Bucker said, before admitting he was pondering using either Mohammad Chammas or young star Nader Matar to replace him.

“If we play Nader we will make no mistakes, but he is young and Abbas Atwi has that something extra.”

Bucker also indicated he would select Sweden-based Abbas Hassan in goal, over regular Ziad Samad.

“(Hassan) plays for a team that is in the top Swedish League so his background, his training, his experience is definitely a bit better than Ziad.”

“There is nothing against Ziad as a goalkeeper but in this special moment, you have to take the best, end of story,” he said.

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Cech welcomes Chelsea break

Petr Cech admits he is happy to enter a ‘relaxed’ atmosphere with the Czech Republic squad after enduring ‘problems’ with Chelsea.

Andre Villas-Boas has come under increased pressure following his side’s poor performance in the Champions League and the FA Cup in recent weeks, while a faltering Premier League campaign has overshadowed the Portuguese’s reign at Stamford Bridge.

The Chelsea boss has also admitted to differences with the club’s senior players, and Cech admits he is welcoming the international break.

“When you go with the national team and then go back with the club, it’s two different things,” Cech said.

“If you have all the sort of problems in the club and the club is not doing well and you come to an atmosphere where everyone is relaxed because you have made your target by reaching the European Championship, then the atmosphere is different and you can enjoy it.”

“But you always separate the two teams because, whatever problems you have with the national team or with the club, it doesn’t really concern the team you are in.”

“It’s a different type of challenge. It will be a big challenge to turn things around. But I think we will finish better than fourth.”

The Czech Republic’s friendly against the Republic of Ireland on Wednesday sees Cech come up against Stephen Hunt, the player who caused the goalkeeper a severe head injury following a collision in 2006.

“I don’t travel to Birmingham to have dinner with him … I have no time for that. No, I’m joking,” Cech said.

“Any time, after the game when we meet each other, we have a little chat. At the last game of last season we swapped shirts as well.”

“There are things in life that happen and are unfortunate. You can’t take it back, so you have to look forward and do something about it.”

“I could be sitting at home every day being upset about it but that is not the way I want to live. I want to enjoy every time I play a football game, even against him and everyone else.”

“It is always better when you know that you put the bad things behind and you concentrate on what is in the future.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Villa losses continue to grow

Aston Villa lost 54 million pounds in the 12 months to May 31, 2011, their worst financial showing since Randy Lerner bought the club in 2006.

These latest numbers show a 42 per cent increase in losses at the club, with the club losing 37.6m pounds the previous financial year, but it continues the trend of increased losses every year since Lerner took over.

The sales of Ashley Young to Manchester United and Stewart Downing to Liverpool have not been included in the latest figures, while Lerner injected 25m pounds into the club.

The club’s chief financial officer, Robin Russell, said: “The board is confident that the actions taken since the end of the 2010-11 financial year have galvanised the longer-term sustainability of the club and have given us a better financial platform on which to build for future success.”

“Given the challenging economic environment that we have been experiencing in the West Midlands and indeed globally, we are pleased with the positive trends in our financial performance.”

“Our objectives are to compete strongly on the pitch and to achieve sustainability as well as compliance with UEFA’s Financial Fair Play requirements.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed

Gold Coast kicked out of A-League

Gold Coast United may have already played their last A-League game after their licence was terminated on Wednesday.

The Football Federation Australia hope to come to an agreement with the United players in the coming days that will allow the team to complete the final four games of the season, and will pay the players if they agree to do so.

But with their next game scheduled against the Phoenix in Wellington on Sunday, FFA chairman Frank Lowy admitted that the best-case scenario could be that the game has to be postponed.

Lowy insisted that FFA had not acted hastily in coming to the decision, the board having reached it after being given ‘rock-solid’ legal advice that doing so is within their powers.

A-League chief Lyall Gorman will head to the Gold Coast to brief the players and attempt to broker the agreement to see out the season.

But at best Gold Coast will play four more games before departing the competition a year after fellow expansion club North Queensland Fury bowed out because FFA refused to continue supporting them financially.

And while Lowy would not rule out having a club on the Gold Coast in future and said he remains hopeful of still fielding 10 teams in the 2012/13 season, it would seem more likely that any replacement club would be based elsewhere.

On Tuesday Lowy said in a speech at the Melbourne Heart business lunch that he hopes to install a second Sydney team in the city’s west, and the latest development could hasten the establishment of a club in the booming region.

FFA and the club’s billionaire owner Clive Palmer have been at loggerheads in recent weeks over a range of issues relating to how the game is run in Australia.

Gold Coast were issued with the termination notice for making ‘at least three clear breaches’ of their Club Participation Agreement in the past few days.

Central to this was their decision to include the slogan ‘Freedom of Speech’ on their jerseys against Melbourne Victory last Saturday after Palmer withdrew the Hyatt Regency Coolum sponsorship because he is now in legal dispute with hotel chain Hyatt over its management of his Coolum resort.

As well as the slogan on the jumpers, it was also seen around the ground on various billboards, despite the fact the club were expressly told in the hours leading up to the game not to don the strips or post the advertising signage.

Before the hastily-convened media announcement got underway, Palmer revealed the news on Twitter and stated his desire to fight the decision.

“Our licence is being rekoved (sic) by Frank Lowy and FFA cohorts … I will issue detailed response shortly,” Palmer said.

“We intend to fight this ludicrous decision by incompetent FFA in the courts. Frank Lowy is an institution who now belongs in an institution.”

In his statement, which he read to gathered media before answering questions along with FFA chief executive Ben Buckley, Lowy stated that he had no alternative other than to terminate the club’s licence.

“The material breach on Saturday night was followed by a statement from the club that it intended to continue using the slogan,” Lowy said.

“This behaviour came on top of public comments that displayed a total lack of respect for football and the millions of Australians who love the game.”

Wed 29 February, 2012
RSS Feed