De Jong dreams of calling Bayern home

Luuk de Jong has confessed that it is his dream to complete a move to Bayern Munich this off-season.

The 21-year-old was in scintillating form for Twente during 2011-12, scoring 25 goals in the Eredivisie to help his side claim a top-six finish and book a place in Netherlands’ 23-man squad for Euro 2012.

Now preparing to make his bow at the European Championship, de Jong admits the idea of plying his trade at the Allianz Arena represents a cherished ambition of his.

“Bayern Munich are a fantastic club. It is my dream to one day play for them,” De Jong told Bild.

Bayern’s pursuit of a new striker has been widely documented, following their disappointment in the Bundesliga and the Champions League final.

Goal.com exclusively revealed on Tuesday that de Jong tops Bayern’s wish list this off-season, along with Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko, who they have enquired about.

Nonetheless, de Jong insisted he is not feeling pressured by mounting interest from other clubs, as he explained he will evaluate a possible departure only if he is presented with an offer.

“I know there are a number of clubs interested in me,” he added.

“I have a three-year contract in Enschede, but if an interesting offer comes then I will certainly think about it.”

De Jong will be vying for a place in attack when Netherlands kick off their Euro 2012 campaign against 1992 winners Denmark on June 9.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Jancker tips a Dutch disaster

Carsten Jancker said he expects Netherlands and Italy to both suffer surprise eliminations from the group stages of Euro 2012.

The Dutch line up in Group B alongside Germany, Portugal and Denmark, while the Italians have been drawn with reigning champions Spain, Republic of Ireland and Croatia.

Speaking exclusively to Goal.com, Jancker, who represented Germany at Euro 2000, believes the early rounds of the competition will deliver a few shocks, including premature exits for Netherlands and Italy.

The ex-Bayern Munich forward has tipped Bert van Marwijk’s side to lose their grudge match against Germany in Kharkiv on June 13, before failing to pick up points in their final match against Portugal at the same venue four days later.

“(Germany v Netherlands) will be a great game. Both teams have incredible attacking potential, but Germany will show in this match that they have the best team in the tournament,” Jancker said.

In relation to the Azzurri in Group C, Jancker feels his former trainer Giovanni Trapattoni has shaped a Republic of Ireland team that will emerge as dark horses this summer and progress at the Italians’ expense.

“As a show of solidarity with Trapattoni, I’m tipping Ireland to be the championship’s surprise team,” he said.

Euro 2012 gets under way on June 8, when Greece face Poland at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Lampard rules out England retirement

England and Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard insists that he has no intention of retiring from international football soon.

The 33-year-old has been a mainstay in the national set-up for over a decade, gaining 90 appearances in the process, and is set to feature in his fourth international campaign this year in Euro 2012.

Lampard is the oldest member of the England squad travelling to Poland and Ukraine but claims that the competition will be not necessarily mark his tournament swansong.

“I don’t see myself retiring from international football in the near future, so I wouldn’t call this my last tournament necessarily,” Lampard said.

“But I’m no fool and I know that age is a factor.

“I will take this as potentially one of my last chances. In the Champions League I had that same mind-set.”

England manager Roy Hodgson has just one more friendly game, following last Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Norway, to assess the squad before leading the Three Lions into their first group game against France on June 11, but Lampard believes his new international boss could take hope from the impact of Roberto Di Matteo at Chelsea.

“It’s certainly possible to create something very quickly, there’s no magic formula in football. You can have the right preparation and the surroundings for a tournament,” he said.

“But in my opinion man-management is of the utmost importance in top football these days. When you’ve got a very good squad of players, of course there’s training and tactics and stuff which are important. But the man-management issue at Chelsea was the huge thing.

“Robbie took players aside and talked to them and made them feel confident. He brought the best out of them, and when you can do that you’ve got a chance. If England can do that as a group then I still think we’ve got a great chance.”

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Swiss Vonlanthen announces retirement

Johan Vonlanthen has confirmed that he has retired from football after struggling to face the prospect of undergoing knee surgery.

The Colombia-born forward had been tipped for stardom ever since his goal for Switzerland in the 3-1 defeat to France at Euro 2004, aged just 18.

However, a combination of struggling to settle at various clubs throughout his career and sustaining a string of injuries at crucial points have led the 26-year-old to call it a day.

Vonlanthen explained his decision to Swiss newspaper Blick, before adding: “Football does not mean the same to me now as it did before.”

A son of a Colombian father and Swiss mother, Vonlanthen was raised at Swiss club Young Boys, where he made his debut at the age of 16.

He left the Bern outfit in 2003 and joined PSV, where he was soon farmed out on loan to Brescia and NAC, before being ruled out of the World Cup in Germany three years later.

In spite of his disappointment in missing the tournament, Vonlanthen moved on again, this time to Red Bull Salzburg, but fell out of favour towards the end of his stint in the Austrian Superliga.

His loan return to Switzerland in the 2010-11 season was promising, scoring 10 goals in 27 league appearances for FC Zurich, but a deal was not made permanent.

Vonlanthen went back to his country of his birth Colombia to play for top-flight side Itagui, but has chosen to retire on the grounds that he wants to bring his newborn son up in his homeland.

“I’m feeling very good right now, I’m happy,” he told Uefa.com upon announcement of his retirement.

“I want him to grow up in Colombia.”

The skilful attacker earned 40 caps for Switzerland, scoring seven times.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Neymar delighted with USA scalp

Santos star Neymar was over the moon after seeing a young Brazil side romp to victory over the United States.

The 20-year-old striker netted Brazil’s first from the penalty spot as the South Americans ran out 4-1 victors in Washington DC, the second win in a week for the squad composed almost exclusively of players under the age of 23 in preparation for the Olympic Games.

The penalty conversion saw Neymar became Brazil’s top scorer under manager Mano Menezes.

Marcelo, Thiago Silva and Alexandre Pato also hit the target against Jurgen Klinsmann’s men, whose only goal came from Herculez Gomez.

Neymar praised the effort showed by his inexperienced team-mates, and insisted that it was far more important than his own performance.

“It was a great game for all the Selecao and also for me. Of course you cannot always pull off your tricks and flicks, but I played for the team, I scored and set up two,” Neymar said.

“The Selecao put on a good show and we won, that is the most important thing.”

Neymar now has nine goals in 17 appearances he has made since Menezes handed him a debut against the United States in August 2010.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Norwich reject Lambert resignation

Norwich City have rejected the resignation of Paul Lambert, despite the manager currently being in talks with Aston Villa.

Lambert has opened discussions with the officials of Aston Villa and with Lambert keen to push through the deal he has offered his resignation which has subsequently been swiftly rejected by the club.

Lambert has guided the Norfolk club from League 1 to a 12th-place finish in the Premier League season since moving to the club from Colchester three seasons ago.

“The Club regrets to confirm that Paul Lambert has offered his resignation from his position as Norwich City Manager,” a statement read on the club’s official website.

“We have fought hard to keep Paul at Norwich City and have not accepted his resignation whilst discussions with another club are taking place.

“However, whatever happens, we want to place on record our sincere gratitude for everything Paul has done for the Club over the last three fantastic seasons.

“When Paul joined us in August 2009 we were in 66th position in the English football pyramid and the Club was on the brink of financial meltdown.

“Today we are a Barclays Premier League football club, on a financially sound footing and with a stadium full to capacity.

“Discussions with Paul throughout the last few days have been professional and amicable. Paul has already earned his place in Norwich City Football Club history and, no matter what happens, will always have a friendly welcome at Carrow Road.

“Meanwhile, contrary to some media speculation, the Club does not need to sell any players and the finances are in place to substantially strengthen the excellent squad which helped us finish in 12th position in the Premier League last season.

“Rest assured that everyone behind the scenes at Carrow Road remains absolutely focused on continuing to help the Club progress.”

Lambert had previously stated he was happy in his current role after being linked with replacing Alex McLeish at Villa Park earlier in May, though after the club firmed up their interest with a formal approach he now looks set to depart Carrow Road.

The 42-year-old has previously managed Livingston, Wycombe, Colchester before replacing Bryan Gunn at Norwich in August 2009.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Mata sets Chelsea goals

Chelsea midfielder Juan Mata is determined to improve on his performances for the west London outfit, despite an impressive debut campaign.

Since his arrival at Stamford Bridge last summer, the former Valencia man has become a key component in the side which won the FA Cup and Champions League earlier in May.

But, despite notching 12 goals and providing 16 assists, the Spain international is not prepared to rest on his laurels.

He told the club’s official magazine: “My focus is to continue improving. I am young as a footballer and I have to improve my game and my statistics over the next year, this is what I will try to do.

“You cannot rest on what you have achieved; you must look to the future and hope for more success.”

In addition to the FA Cup and Championship League silverware, the Spaniard was also voted as the club’s player of the year.

And, although the 24-year-old is looking to the future, Mata could not help but reflect on such a successful season, and he now intends on adding the Euro 2012 and, possibly, Olympic Games crowns to his growing list of honours.

He said: “Lifting the Champions League was an unbelievable experience – the biggest club trophy you can win – and, for me, winning the Player of the Year trophy makes me feel very happy, proud and grateful.

“I could never have expected my first season to go this well. To win the FA Cup, the Champions League and the Chelsea Player of the Year, it is incredible and I am so happy, but I want more.

“I have the European Championships in the summer and maybe the Olympic Games as well, so, who knows, perhaps I can say that I have won nearly everything I have played in this year.”

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Pescara president confirms Zeman move to Roma

Pescara president Daniele Sebastiani has revealed that head coach Zdenek Zeman will leave the club to take charge of Roma.

The capital club are in the market for a new coach due to the departure of Luis Enrique, and they have now found a replacement in the 65-year-old for the 2012-13 campaign.

“Zeman is going to Roma. Everything has been decided. Roma’s call was too strong for him to turn down,” Sebastiani told Radio Mana Mana.

“We will always have a good relationship with him. Zdenek has very close ties to the city, and will always be in Pescara’s heart.

“We could not keep him here. He has a lot of affection for Rome, and for Roma in particular. His choice was inevitable.”

Zeman guided Pescara back to Serie A this season after a 19-year absence from Italy’s top flight.

Roma have yet to confirm the appointment of Zeman, but are expected to release an official statement in the next few days.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Catalunya cleared for internationals

Catalunya have been cleared to play in international competition – provided there is no risk of them having to face Spain.

The Catalunyan parliament passed an article of law over 10 years ago enabling teams from the region to participate in global events.

That ruling was challenged by the Spanish state but the Constitutional Court has now ruled in favour of Catalunya.

However, it has been decreed that they can only compete ‘whenever there are no Spanish federations’ involved, so as there will be no risk of ‘hindering or disturbing the powers of the State in the coordination and international representation of the sport (in question)’.

Catalunya has had a football team since 1904 and are currently coached by Barcelona legend Johan Cruyff. Their most recent outing was a 0-0 draw with Tunisia at the Olimpic Lluis Companys in December.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Reveillere ignorant of Young dives

France defender Anthony Reveillere has insisted he was unaware of England winger Ashley Young’s diving reputation.

The right-back was questioned over the Manchester United attacker’s tendency to go to the ground rather easily during a press conference, but Reveillere does not fear that the 26-year-old’s behaviour could trouble him.

Young earned himself a reputation as a diver after winning penalties against QPR and Aston Villa in the 2011-12 English Premier League campaign, but the Lyon defender is confident that the referees will not fall for the winger’s tricks.

“Young has a reputation for being a diver? I was not aware of that,” Reveillere told reporters.

“There will be strict rules during Euro 2012, though. If a player dives, he will be punished with a yellow card.

“I think that the English have been visited by the referees as well. They won’t engage in such behaviour.”

France take on England in their first Group D match on June 11.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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