Ba deal on hold

Newcastle striker Demba Ba could be staying with the club until at least the end of the English Premier League season.

Ba reportedly had unproductive talks with Chelsea on the eve of the January transfer window, with his seven-million pound release clause to become active at the start of 2013.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew said he was almost prepared to allow Ba to leave his side at the end of the campaign.

“In some respects I feel a little bit sorry for Demba,” Pardew said.

“There are people out there fuelling this who are not actually involved or want to be involved and that’s the sort of world that we are in.

“The contract is what it is, we are all aware of that, and for me as the manager I need it resolved as quickly as possible. That’s the best situation for our fans and for the club.

“The situation with that is that it’s getting close to the point where we say ‘no more’, but the offer is still there.”

In other transfer news, Manchester City manager Roberto Mancini is unwilling to allow any players to leave the Etihad Stadium club.

“We can’t sell players, we can’t. We don’t have enough to play if we sell players,” the Italian said.

Elsewhere, Arsenal have reportedly launched a 10-million pound bid for Atletico Madrid forward Adrian Lopez, while AC Milan’s Pato is set for a move back to Brazil.

Tottenham goalkeeper Carlo Cudicini will join the Los Angeles Galaxy, the two clubs have confirmed.

The 39-year-old Italian arrived at White Hart Lane in January 2009, but made just 37 appearances in all competitions over three years.

In recent times he found his first-team opportunities limited by the presence of both Hugo Lloris and Brad Friedel, and will now make the same move as former team-mate Robbie Keane did in 2011.

“We are delighted to be able to add Carlo Cudicini to our roster,” Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena said. 

“Carlo is an experienced and accomplished goalkeeper who we believe will be a great addition to our team and our defensive unit.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Reading complete Carrico signing

Reading have completed the signing of Sporting Lisbon captain Daniel Carrico, the Portuguese giants have confirmed.

The English Premier League side will pay just over 600,000 pounds to secure the January arrival of the centre-back, whose contract was due to expire in the off-season.

Carrico, 24, moves to England on a two-year deal, with the option of a further year which would commit him until 2015.

He will join up with his new team-mates for his first training session later this week.

Sporting will also receive an unnamed percentage of any sell-on fee for the player, who has been with the club since the age of 12. 

“I’m leaving the club in my heart, where I had the privilege of graduating and serving for several years,” Carrico said.

”I leave because I understand that I am at a stage in my career in which I have to take chances. Moreover, the proposed project is extremely exciting one to me and I know I can succeed. 

“I wish the Sporting Clube de Portugal to return to winning ways quickly and I ask you also, as captain, to continue to support the team, the club and its officers and employees. 

“To all of you who supported me over the years, thank you very much, I’ll take you with me in my heart.”

Carrico will become the first arrival of what manager Brian McDermott expects to be a busy January for Reading.

“I think we’re going to do some stuff,” he told reporters on Monday.

“We’ll see what it is but I think we’ll definitely be doing something.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Blatter seeks help on anti-corruption

Sepp Blatter has called on FIFA’s member organisations to follow its lead on anti-corruption and help make football fully transparent.

The organisation was embroiled in a bribery scandal in 2011 when Blatter’s presidential rival, Mohamed Bin Hammam, was accused of offering members of the Executive Committee cash in exchange for votes.

Bin Hammam was banned from the sport for life following a number of failed appeals, while CONCACAF president Jack Warner, who had been the subject of a number of accusations over corruption throughout his 11-year reign, resigned his post.

It was the latest in a long line of accusations to be levelled at football’s governing body, with some stretching back to when Joao Havelange ousted Stanley Rous as president in 1974.

But Blatter believes such episodes will be a thing of the past now that FIFA has taken steps to clean up its act, as long as every member body under its rule plays their part.

“The congress in 2011 decided that we shall have a look at three different matters,” he told Al Jazeera.

“One was transparency in finances, one was to improve the organisation of the ethics committee, and the third was to have a better governance in all the organisations in football.

“We are now in the last phase of this implementation. In 2013, at the next congress, we will be at the end of this reform process. What is already done is that we have a special committee for audit and compliance, we now have a special committee for ethics that has two chambers – one investigatory and one adjudicatory – and we are at the end of some changes in statutes.

“This is the top of the pyramid, if we want it to work through the whole pyramid this must be installed at all the national associations and in the confederations.

“This must come. FIFA, with 300 million people, cannot just have one tribunal or one control system at the head. It’s like in any country, you have to go to all the provinces and all the communities.

“It is done, but now it has to be applied. It is easy to control football when it is played on the field, because you have a referee, you have a time limit and you have boundaries. But outside the field of play you have no referee, you have no time limit and you have no boundaries.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Allen lauds ´unstoppable´ Suarez

Joe Allen has labelled his Liverpool team-mate Luis Suarez ‘unstoppable’ after the striker netted twice in the 3-0 win over QPR on Sunday.

The victory at Loftus Road saw Brendan Rodgers’ team climb up to ninth on the English Premier League table going into the New Year, with Suarez grabbing a double inside the opening 15 minutes.

With the 25-year-old forward having already surpassed last season’s tally of 11 league goals at the half-way mark this term, Allen believes it is performances like the one against struggling QPR which make him such a difficult player to play against.

“We were all desperate to bounce back after what was a bitterly disappointing result at Stoke,” Allen told the Liverpool Echo, referring to a 3-1 loss at the Britannia Stadium.

“We wanted to put things right and we did that with the way we played in the first half. As a team we were excellent and that’s the way we want to play in every match. When you’ve got someone like Luis Suarez you’re always going to cause teams problems. When Luis plays like that he’s unstoppable.

“For his first goal, when he picked up the ball I’m sure QPR didn’t think there was much danger. But he created something out of nothing and then produced a great finish. That’s why he’s a world-class striker. He’s scoring a lot of goals for us this season and long may that continue.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Cazorla proud of vintage 12 months

Arsenal midfielder Santi Cazorla says he is delighted with what he has achieved in 2012 at club and international level.

After representing Spain at Euro 2012 and playing a key role in helping Malaga to qualify for the Champions League last season, he moved to the English Premier League in the off-season.

Looking back on his success in the last 12 months, Cazorla said it is difficult to take in, having helped Spain become the first men’s national team to win three consecutive major international tournaments.

“That is something you never forget,” he said.

“It is clear that, as football players always say, we do not realise what we have achieved until many years have passed.

“In football everything moves very fast, you do not have enough time to take stock of what you have achieved, but all in all, it is the highest accolade, to win something for your country, to see everyone on the streets celebrating.

“That was a reason to be happy, and hopefully we can repeat that success for the Spanish people many times.”

He moved to the Emirates Stadium in the close-season, along with Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and Cazorla has stated the new challenge of playing in England has reinvigorated him on the pitch.

“It was a very important decision, to change teams,” he said.

“It is a new challenge, it is a completely new adventure from the start, you have to start from zero, aside from the fact of going into a different culture, a new league, a new language.

“But I think that with Arsenal, I was offered an opportunity that I could not turn down, being 27 years old (at the time), it was like a train that I had to take, and I am very satisfied.

“I am learning a lot, I am adapting more and more as days go by, and my aim is to learn the English game, and hopefully I will spend some good years at this club.

“I really enjoy the league, the atmosphere at the stadiums, the respect of the people, their kindness, it is incredible.

“Regarding the collective, we have dropped some points, and we hope that from now on we can all improve. That is what we all want, to see Arsenal further up the table.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Allegri backs frugal Milan

Massimiliano Allegri says AC Milan are on the right track after slashing their wage bill, despite some on-field struggles in Serie A this season.

Milan sold key men Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain in the off-season for huge sums of money in a bid to reduce their wage bill, but have suffered in Serie A as a consequence and sit seventh at the mid-season break.

Allegri pointed to UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules as the driving force behind the club’s newfound prudence and believes the team are performing well under the difficult economic circumstances.

“We are on the right track by focusing on youth,” Allegri told La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We are building a new Milan, so this is an achievement that takes time and passion. The president (Silvio Berlusconi) is right to take this route, as nobody in the current Italian financial crisis can afford wages of seven million euros per season and stay within the Financial Fair Play rules.”

Milan sit on 27 points after 18 games played this season, five points behind sixth-placed Roma and trailing league-leaders Juventus by 17 points.

“I am happy with the number of points we have so far this season, even though we could’ve had a few more,” Allegri said.

“I end the year aware that I adapted to different situations. Intelligence can also be seen in someone’s ability to deal with changing scenarios. In difficult moments I am calm and not clouded by anxiety. Perhaps I kept my job because I was good at reassuring the club.

“I told them we’d emerge from this situation and we are on the right track, although the game with Roma showed we are still not solid.

“I have a contract until 2014, but obviously I’m happy at Milan and would gladly stay for longer. The challenge of getting back to the top within two or three years is exciting.”

Milan have been linked with a move for Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli and although Allegri would not be drawn the rumours, he did advise the Italy international to make good on his considerable promise.

“I don’t like talking about players in other teams,” he said.

“In any case, it’s a shame he still hasn’t shown his talent and I think he needs to hurry up, because you’re 30 before you know it.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Del Bosque plots Spain progression

Vicente del Bosque wants his Spain team to seal qualification to the next FIFA World Cup and win the Confederations Cup in 2013.

Following European Championship success under Luis Aragones in 2008, Spain and Del Bosque collected first the 2010 FIFA World Cup and then Euro 2012, their third consecutive major trophy.

“It has been a good year for the national team,” he told AS.

“Winning the Euros, the second consecutive one after winning it with Luis in 2008, was the challenge and we have achieved it. But we must not wallow in what we have done in the past if we want to maintain this level in the future.

“Personally I am proud that this title was a joy for the country in a difficult moment, although I said at the time that it is not going to fix the problems in Spain,” he added, referring to the country’s economic woes.

Nevertheless, the former Real Madrid coach is keen to improve on his country’s already sky-high standing in the game and sees securing qualification to the 2014 FIFA World Cup as the best way of moving forward.

“The first objective is to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil,” he said.

“In March we have two decisive games, against Finland and then against France. Beating Finland would give us the calmness to go to France in a game that could be decisive.

“We know that we cannot allow ourselves to be complacent against the rivals that theoretically we should be beating, because that would be fatal.”

Del Bosque is also keen to take advantage of the upcoming Confederations Cup, and believes that the tournament can benefit the national team in their quest to win back-to-back World Cups.

“We will approach it with every respect and with the greatest expectations,” he said.

“It’s a trophy that Spain has only been in once, one that you can only participate in by being world champions, one that takes place in the same country as the next World Cup.

“The Confederations Cup is interesting. Participating helped Spain win the World Cup in 2010. We knew the stadiums (in South Africa), the atmosphere, the conditions and also the difficulties of a tournament that simulates the format of the World Cup.

“Losing against the United States in the 2009 edition was a lesson that served us well in 2010. All of those experiences served us in the World Cup. I hope that we take advantage of the next Confederations Cup in the same way, that we go to compete with the best and with the intention of winning.”

Spain have been drawn against Uruguay, Tahiti and the winners of the 2013 African Cup of Nations for the Confederations Cup, which kicks off on June 15.

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Everton face four weeks without Gibson

Everton will be without midfielder Darron Gibson for up to a month, with the former Manchester United man suffering a thigh strain.

The 25-year-old was absent from his side’s 2-1 home loss to Chelsea on Sunday because of the problem, manager David Moyes confirming he will spend an extended period on the sidelines.

“I think he’s going to be out for about four weeks,” Moyes said.

Gibson spent more than two months out earlier this year because of a similar problem and adds to the club’s growing injury list.

Moyes is already without Kevin Mirallas (hamstring), Tony Hibbert (calf) and Seamus Coleman, and he was also forced to rest captain Phil Neville against Chelsea after he played consecutive games in a five-day period following surgery.

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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No City appeal against Nasri red

Manchester City have decided not to appeal the red card shown to Samir Nasri for head-butting Norwich’s Sebastien Bassong on Saturday.

The incident occurred in the first half of City’s 4-3 over Norwich at Carrow Road and the dismissal drew strong condemnation from Roberto Mancini, who claimed the club would appeal the decision following the match.

However ,City have since reconsidered their position and announced there will be no challenge to the red card, which means the Frenchman will be suspended for three matches.

“The Football Association has confirmed that Samir Nasri will serve a three-match suspension, following his red card during the 4-3 win at Norwich on Saturday,” a statement released by Manchester City read.

“Nasri will now miss the New Year’s Day visit from Stoke City, the FA Cup tie with Watford (January 5) and the trip to Arsenal on January 13.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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Coleman pens new Everton deal

Promising fullback Seamus Coleman has signed a new five-year contract with English Premier League club Everton.

Republic of Ireland international Coleman, who joined Everton from Sligo Rovers in 2009, is now contracted to the Goodison Park outfit until 2018.

The 24-year-old has made 85 first-team appearances to date, although he has missed Everton’s last three matches through injury.

“Signing a contract here is fantastic and I’m really looking forward to the next couple of years,” Coleman told EvertonTV.

“I’m glad to get it all done and to sign for so long at a club like Everton is a great achievement – I want to be here for as long as possible.

“I’m going to keep working as hard as I have done since day one and keep improving every day in training to impress the manager.

“I’m really happy to have signed for the length of time that I have.”

Mon 31 Dec, 2012
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