Kjaer to cut Wolfsburg ties

Roma’s Simon Kjaer has stressed that he has no intention of returning to Wolfsburg this off-season once his loan spell in Italy ends.

The Denmark international joined the Serie A side on a one-year loan deal at the start of the 2011-12 campaign after a difficult time with the Bundesliga outfit, and he has insisted that he does not want to work with coach Felix Magath again.

“I am not going to call Mr. Magath. I will never player under Magath again,” Kjaer told Kicker.

“At the moment, I am concentrating on the European Championship and then we will see. It goes without saying, though, that I will not be returning to Wolfsburg.”

The 23-year-old has a contract with the Wolfsburg until the end of the 2013-14 season, but it seems unlikely that he will see out that agreement following his latest comments.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Diego talks up Wolfsburg return

Brazilian midfielder Diego has confessed that he expects to play for Wolfsburg next season.

The highly rated playmaker left the German side for Atletico Madrid after clashing with coach Felix Magath last summer, and signed a loan agreement with los Colchoneros.

The Brazilian managed to kick-start his career at Vicente Calderon and had a big role to play on the road to the Europa League title, but it appears that the La Liga outfit won’t be able to make his transfer permanent.

The player now admits that a summer return to Wolfsburg is the most likely scenario.

“I think I will be at Wolfsburg next season,” Diego told Wolfsburger Allgemeine Zeitung. “I still have two years of contract.”

The 27-year-old was purchased by the Wolves in 2010 following an unsuccessful spell at Juventus and he enjoyed a great first season at Volkswagen Arena.

Nonetheless, the Brazilian was allowed to leave the club last summer following a row with head coach Felix Magath.

The experienced coach recently revealed that he would be happy to welcome the Brazilian back to the side.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Barca continue Alba chase

Valencia are resigned to losing Jordi Alba as Barcelona continue to chase the impressive left back, according to reports.

Despite initially being determined to hold onto the 23-year-old, Valencia have now supposedly accepted the player’s departure is inevitable.

Valencia sporting director Braulio Vazquez said he was aware Barcelona were eager to sign Alba.

“I suppose Barcelona want him because he’s Catalan and plays on the left wing,” he told Radio Galega.

“We are obviously talking about an excellent player, and it’s only normal that Barcelona are keen to sign him.”

Alba has a contract with Mauricio Pellegrino’s side until 2013, but they are ready to see him leave for a fee in the region of 15 million euros.

Barca have reportedly already agreed personal terms with the defender, but are yet to table an official offer.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Napoli hot on the trail of Montpellier star

Napoli are readying bid for Montpellier defender Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, according to L’Equipe.

The Azzurri are looking to add more steel to their back line and they have singled out the Montpellier captain as their number one target.

The highly rated defender, who has just over a year left on his deal at Stade de la Mosson, recently admitted he was seriously thinking about leaving the club.

On top of that, Montpellier president Louis Nicollin stated that Yanga-Mbiwa and Giroud are the only two players who can leave the club this summer.

L’Equipe now reports that Napoli have already opened talks with the player’s representative Pierre Frelot.

The 23-year-old is widely regarded as one of the best defenders in French top flight and he narrowly missed out on the final France squad for the Euro 2012.

Yanga-Mbiwa has been almost ever present for MHSC this season, having started 34 Ligue 1 games, scoring one goal in the process.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Hunt confirms SuperSport stay

SuperSport United coach Gavin Hunt will be staying with the Premier Soccer League side for next season.

After a successful meeting with the club’s management, Hunt agreed to stay on, and he is already looking for players to bolster his squad for next season.

“After winning the Nedbank Cup, our ultimate dream now is to conquer Africa,” Hunt said.

“The last time we played in the CAF Confederation Cup we lost to a team that eventually won the tournament, but this time we will be more prepared.

“We are talking to a few players with a hope to signing them for next season.”

Hunt also confirmed that veteran striker Sibusiso Zuma is staying for next season.

SuperSport have already signed Clifford Mulenga from Bloemfontein Celtic.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Tate: Rodgers will succeed at Anfield

Swansea defender Alan Tate insists outgoing manager Brendan Rodgers will be a success at Liverpool.

The Northern Irishman has agreed to take over at Anfield, and the defender believes it was just a matter of time before their boss was linked with top jobs.

“Once you have a good couple of years, especially with the success we had this year in the Premier League, you expect the manager to be touted for certain jobs,” Tate told Sky Sports News.

“To be fair, this one that has come up is probably the second biggest club in the country.

“It’s one of those things that if it does turn out that he goes there, you can’t really blame him to be honest.”

The former Manchester United defender hailed Rodgers’ tenacity and is certain the ex-Reading manager’s approach will work wonders with the Reds.

“He’s a great man manager, he’s a great motivator. To be honest he doesn’t settle for second best,” Tate said.

“He’ll be one of those people who will walk into Anfield and just be a breath of fresh air to the players and to the whole set-up that’s at Liverpool.

“Obviously if he does decide to go we’ll be sorry to see him leave, but when he goes into Anfield they’ll have a very good manager and I’m sure he’ll be successful there.”

Swansea’s first team coach Alan Curtis echoed Tate’s comments, lamenting the loss of Rodgers as a setback for the club.

“He’s been fantastic for us and we wish him all the best,” he said

“There was always going to be the day when Brendan was lured away by one of the bigger clubs but we were probably hoping it was going to be in 18 months to two years. So to lose him now, if the reports are true, is a huge blow.”

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Loew wary of ´quality´ opposition

Germany coach Joachim Loew says failure is not an option for his side at Euro 2012 as they search for their first European title since 1996.

The 52-year-old also warned his team not to underestimate rivals the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain at the tournament, which begins on June 8.

Loew believes his team have improved, but said the top sides would be hard to separate in Poland and Ukraine.

“I had a lot of time to think of all the possible scenarios back in January, February. However, at this point, I have only one thing on my mind and that’s Portugal,” Loew told Kicker.

“I am not even thinking about the possibility of failure. The team has made a lot of progress. That does not guarantee that we will win the title, though. Details will be decisive this summer.

“We don’t underestimate anyone. The other teams have a lot of quality, too.

“People should not think that Netherlands are inferior with players such as Robin van Persie, Wesley Sneijder and Arjen Robben.

“Portugal have Real Madrid stars like Cristiano Ronaldo and Pepe, while Spain have world class stars like Xavi and Andres Iniesta. It would be silly to think they have less quality than Germany.”

Germany have been drawn in Group B at Euro 2012, alongside the Netherlands, Portugal and Denmark.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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Vermaelen vows to stay at Arsenal

Arsenal have been given a boost ahead of the transfer window, with defender Thomas Vermaelen pledging his future to the club.

The Belgian defender has been a hit for the English Premier League side since arriving from Ajax in 2009 and aspires to end his career at the Emirates Stadium.

Rumours that Arsenal captain Robin van Persie is set to leave Arsene Wenger’s team persist, but Vermaelen insists he is not going anywhere.

“I will stay at Arsenal forever. There will be no transfer for me,” he told reporters.

“I love London. I’ve got a house there, I’m happy there and I don’t see any reason to ever leave the club.”

Thu 31 May, 2012
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International friendlies preview: Hopefuls finalise Euro tune-up

The heavyweights hoping for Euro 2012 glory continue their preparations in international friendly action over the weekend.

The Netherlands, beaten finalists at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, host Northern Ireland at the Amsterdam Arena, fresh from beating Slovakia 2-0 on Wednesday.

Portugal, who will meet the Netherlands in Group B of the UEFA showcase event in Poland and Ukraine, go up against Turkey on Saturday.

Despite boasting the goal-scoring prowess of Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal have been held to 0-0 draws in their last two friendlies, against Macedonia and Poland.

Denmark, hard pressed to escape from Group B, which also features Euro 2008 finalists Germany, host Australia in Copenhagen.

Sought-after Ajax playmaker Christian Eriksen will carry the slim tournament hopes of Denmark, who are captained by Liverpool defender Daniel Agger.

Croatia, thrown into a tough Group C with holders Spain and a resurgent Italy, make the trip to Oslo for a run-out against Norway.

Coach Slaven Bilic will hope to improve on his team’s showing at Euro 2008, when Croatia lost on penalties to Turkey in a memorable quarter-final.

England, who defeated Norway 1-0 last week, will play their first home match under new manager Roy Hodgson when Belgium arrive at Wembley Stadium.

Euro 2012 co-hosts Poland have a winnable match at home to minnows Andorra.

Also on Saturday, Luxembourg host Malta and Honduras tackle fierce rivals El Salvador in Washington DC.

A day later, neighbours Canada and the United States square off at BMO Field, Toronto.

The US lost 4-1 on Wednesday in an exhibition at home to Brazil, who are in action again on Sunday against Mexico.

The new-look Brazil continued to take shape as they prepare to challenge for the FIFA World Cup on home soil in 2014, with Santos star Neymar scoring once and providing two assists against the US in Maryland.

European and world champions Spain will aim to finalise the starting 11 for their tournament defence with a friendly against China in Seville.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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International friendly preview: England v Belgium

Chelsea-bound Eden Hazard may go up against his future team-mates when England host Belgium in Roy Hodgson’s second match in charge.

Belgian Hazard is widely reportedly to be on the verge of joining European champions Chelsea, for a fee rumoured to as much as 32 million pounds.

The playmaker became one of the most highly sought-after talents in Europe after guiding unheralded Lille to a double of Ligue 1 and the Coupe de France in 2010/11.

And it is Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea, yet to appoint a fulltime manager and with caretaker Roberto di Matteo in limbo, who appear to have succeeded in luring the 21-year-old.

His imminent stardom may have already gone to his head – Hazard was late to leave his hotel room on Tuesday, and found the team bus had left for training without him.

According to national team coach Marc Wilmots, Hazard has been ordered to purchase a bottle of champagne as a forfeit.

Champagne will be in order again if his move to Chelsea is finalised, where he will join countrymen Kevin de Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku.

Another Belgian international, goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, is also a Chelsea player, although he spent last term on loan at Atletico Madrid.

Following their penalty shootout victory over Bayern Munich in the Champions League on May 19, England’s Chelsea contingent sat out the 1-0 victory away to Norway last week.

But defenders John Terry, Ashley Cole and Gary Cahill, together with midfielder Frank Lampard, could all come under consideration for selection on Saturday, when Hodgson takes charge of his first match at Wembley.

But England will have to do without Gareth Barry after a groin injury suffered against Norway ruled the Manchester City midfielder out of Euro 2012. Everton’s Phil Jagielka has been called up as a replacement.

Hazard will be expected to pull the strings for the visitors, as a key member of the Belgium team who finished third behind Turkey and Germany in their qualifying group for Euro 2012.

Courtois and De Bruyne were not included in the squad to face Hodgson’s team, but there will be other faces familiar to English players and spectators alike.

Premier League-based Belgians selected by Wilmots include Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, Arsenal centre-back Thomas Vermaelen, Everton’s midfield powerhouse Marouane Fellaini, Fulham’s Moussa Dembele and Manchester City’s title-winning captain Vincent Kompany.

Belgium’s most recent friendly outing on Friday ended in a 2-2 draw at home to Montenegro, who finished second behind England in Group G of Euro 2012 qualifying.

Thu 31 May, 2012
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