Emre returns to Fenerbahce

Fenerbahce will welcome back Emre Belozoglu after signing the midfielder from Atletico Madrid for 350,000 euros.

The midfielder has signed a two-and-a-half year contract with the Istanbul giants, and will earn 1.2 million euros for the remainder of this season, while receiving two million euros per annum after that.

“I am extremely happy. I think all Fenerbahce fans will be happy,” the club’s vice president Abdullah Kigili told their website.

“When he was away, Fenerbahce missed him and he missed Fenerbahce. Emre will want to retire at Fenerbahce. We are pleased.”

Emre joined Atletico from Fenerbahce at the start of this season, but failed to live up to expectations at the Vicente Calderon.

The midfielder has now been allowed to return to his former club as he aims to relaunch his career after six disappointing months in La Liga.

The 32-year-old started his professional career with Galatasaray, and also represented Inter Milan and Newcastle United before his first stint with Fenerbahce in 2008.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Sunderland sew up Graham

Sunderland have completed the signing of Danny Graham from Swansea for a fee of five million pounds.

Martin O’Neill snapped the 27-year-old up on deadline day on a three-and-a-half year contract.

“As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland I didn’t even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table,” he told the club’s official website.

“I was born and brought up in the north east so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world – it’s special and there’s nowhere else like it.”

Graham, born in Gateshead, was raised a Newcastle supporter but insists he is totally committed to the Sunderland.

“Of course, I totally understand that some fans might need convincing about my commitment to Sunderland because of my roots, but I’ve always given 100 percent no matter what team I play for and no matter who I play against,” he added.

“It’s up to me to show people I deserve to wear the Sunderland shirt and I’m excited about playing for a club as big as this.

“I’m really excited about the future – this is a new phase of my career and I can’t wait to get started.”

Graham joins fellow new arrivals Alfred N’Diaye and Kader Mangane at Sunderland and will wear the number nine shirt.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Bender brothers ready for battle

Bayer Leverkusen midfielder Lars Bender says playing against his twin brother Sven has become normal.

The twins began their careers in 1860 Munich’s youth sides before going their separate ways in 2009, and Lars’ Leverkusen face Sven’s Borussia Dortmund on Sunday at the BayArena.

“We play against each other twice a season and that’s been the case for several years,” Lars told Leverkusen’s website.

“It’s not anything out of the ordinary anymore. It’s an old story and all games are equally important for Sven and me. We haven’t got anything new to say about it.”

Leverkusen sit a point above Dortmund in the Bundesliga, and the Germany international is well aware of the threat posed by the champions.

“We want to hold on to second spot, which we’ve fought hard for, and obviously not give it up without a fight,” Lars said.

“We can into the game in confident mood – we’re still unbeaten at home at the end of the day. I don’t think any opponent looks forward to coming here.

“We want to establish ourselves at the top of the league, and build on that against Dortmund.”

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Cole returns to England squad

Ashley Cole is in line for his 100th cap after being recalled to the England squad for the friendly match against Brazil on February 6.

The Chelsea left-back missed the 4-2 defeat to Sweden because of injury but manager Roy Hodgson has given him the chance to mark the milestone at Wembley.

The 24-man group also sees Everton’s Leon Osman retain his place in the Three Lions squad for the first game of 2013 while youngsters Jonjo Shelvey, Raheem Sterling and Wilfried Zaha are expected to drop down to the under-21s.

Chris Smalling also returns to the England fold after almost a year out of contention following an injury-plagued spell for Manchester United, while Hodgson names just two goalkeepers in Joe Hart and Jack Butland with Fraser Forster and John Ruddy sidelined with injury.

The Wembley fixture is one of a series of fixtures to help mark the Football Association’s 150-year anniversary and will act as a warm-up for the World Cup qualifiers in March against San Marino and Montenegro.

The squad in full:
Goalkeepers: Jack Butland, Joe Hart.
Defenders: Leighton Baines, Gary Cahill, Ashley Cole, Phil Jagielka, Glen Johnson, Joleon Lescott, Chris Smalling, Kyle Walker.
Midfielders: Michael Carrick, Tom Cleverley, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Aaron Lennon, James Milner, Leon Osman, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott, Jack Wilshere.
Forwards: Jermain Defoe, Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Daniel Welbeck.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Emanuelson joins Fulham on loan

Fulham have signed AC Milan winger Urby Emanuelson on loan until the end of the season, they announced on Thursday.

The 26-year-old Netherlands international has found first-team opportunities hard to come by the past few months at the San Siro under Massimo Allegri, making 20 appearances across all competitions for the Italian giants this season before falling out of favour.

With Emanuelson comfortable at both left-back and on the left side of midfield, the move to Craven Cottage sees him reunited with former manager Martin Jol, who coached him during their time together at Ajax during the 2009/10 season.

“Fulham Football Club is delighted to announce the loan signing of Urby Emanuelson until the end of the 2012/13 season,” a statement read on their website.

Emanuelson becomes the club’s second signing of the January transfer window after they earlier completed the loan move for Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong, also until the end of the campaign.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Buonanotte swaps Malaga for Granada

Granada have signed Diego Buonanotte from Malaga for a reported 2.5 million euros, with the Argentine signing a four-and-a-half-year-deal.

The 24-year-old joined Malaga from River Plate in January 2011, but never quite managed to live up to the high expectations that came with his arrival.

Buonanotte had become surplus to requirements at Malaga after the arrival of Lucas Piazon on loan from Chelsea earlier this month, and was allowed to move on when the opportunity arose.

The attacking midfielder made 31 official appearances for Malaga over the past two years, netting five goals in the process.

Granada were desperate to add some fresh blood to their squad, as they are battling against relegation this season after winning promotion to Spain’s top tier last term.

They sit 17th in La Liga.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Carrick accepts blame for Southampton goal

Manchester United midfielder Michael Carrick has taken responsibility for his side conceding during their 2-1 win over Southampton on Wednesday.

Sir Alex Ferguson’s side carved out a seven-point lead at the top of the English Premier League thanks to a hard-fought victory against Mauricio Pochettino’s side at Old Trafford.

But a shock had appeared to be on the cards in the third minute as Jay Rodriguez latched onto Carrick’s weak back pass before sliding the ball home – and the 31-year-old accepts he was to blame for the goal.

“I just didn’t get enough on it, it’s totally my fault and I take the blame for that,” Carrick told MUTV.

“As it popped up I just tried to flick it back to David (de Gea) and I didn’t get enough on it. But we bounced back from that and got the goal and played some decent stuff in the first half.

“To be honest, I thought we defended well, it was my mistake that led to their goal and you can’t really legislate for that, it wasn’t really a defensive error in terms of the team.”

Carrick also criticised his side’s second-half performance, but was keen to praise them for seeing the result out.

“We showed character, it wasn’t an easy game and we are happy with the three points,” he said.

“I think I gave us a bit of a bad start but we bounced back in the first half and played some good football.

“For the majority of the first half, we were quite happy with our performance but the second half was a bit of a write-off to be honest, we didn’t play well at all.

“We just found a way to get over the line so we are delighted to get the three points. There are a few things to work on but we can still take the positives and we are still in a good position.

“We are delighted with the three points, we knew it was a big game and it was a terrific result for us.”

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Kuzmanovic leaves Stuttgart for Inter

Stuttgart midfielder Zdravko Kuzmanovic has joined Inter Milan for an undisclosed fee, the Bundesliga club have confirmed.

The Serbia international’s representative said this week his client was on his way back to Serie A, and Stuttgart have now confirmed that Kuzmanovic has left.

“Zdravko has become a respected player at VfB over the past three-and-a-half years,” Stuttgart sporting director Fredi Bobic said.

“He now got an offer from Serie A and it has always been one of his wishes to return there. We wish him all the best at Inter.”

Kuzmanovic started his professional career at FC Basel, before joining Fiorentina in the 2007.

He left Fiorentina for Stuttgart two years later, and made over 100 official appearances for the Bundesliga outfit.

The 25-year-old becomes Inter’s third signing of the January transfer window after Tommaso Rocchi and Mateo Kovacic, with Ezequiel Schelotto expected to follow suit later on Thursday.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Sunderland sign Danny Graham

Sunderland have announced on their official website that they have completed the signing of Swansea striker Danny Graham.

The Black Cats forked out £5 million for the highly rated forward, who is expected to provide competition for Steven Fletcher.

Graham has signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at the Stadium of Light after completing his medical.

The 27-year-old, who should be in the squad for Saturday’s Premier League match against Reading, was delighted to have finally completed his move.

“As soon as I heard about the interest from Sunderland I didn’t even have to consider any of the other options that were on the table,” the experienced striker told club’s official website.

“I was born and brought up in the north east so I know first-hand the intense passion that people have for their football in this part of the world – it’s special and there’s nowhere else like it.”

Danny Graham is unlikely to get a welcoming reception at the Stadium of Light having earlier admitted he was a Newcastle fan.

He does, however, boast a decent scoring record in the top flight, netting 15 times in 54 Premier League appearances for Swansea.

After impressing in Swans’ first season in the elite division, Graham has only started 10 league fixtures this term after losing a starting berth to new signing Michu.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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Acquafresca completes loan move to Levante

Levante have completed the loan signing of Robert Acquafresca from Bologna, with an option to sign the striker in the off-season.

The Valencia-based club said the 25-year-old would be flying in for a medical on Thursday, before officially joining up with Juan Ignacio Martinez’s squad.

“Levante UD is in tentative agreement with Bologna FC and Robert Acquafresca about taking the Italian on loan till June 30,” a statement from the club read.

The journeyman, who has represented Italy at youth level, will provide much-needed back-up and competition for Obafemi Martins.

Acquafresca had found himself surplus to requirements under Stefano Pioli at Stadio Dall’Ara this term after failing to score in six Serie A appearances for Bologna.

Thu 31 January, 2013
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