´Wolf´ hungry for first-team football

Ricky van Wolfswinkel says he has been assured by manager Chris Hughton that he will be Norwich City’s first-choice striker next season.

The 24-year-old forward, who scored 20 goals in 41 games for Sporting Lisbon last term, agreed to join the Premier League outfit in January for a club record fee of 8.5 million pounds.

The arrival of the Netherlands international will see him join Grant Holt and Luciano Becchio as strikers available to Hughton, who showed a preference to play one striker throughout last season.

And Van Wolfswinkel – who is insistent that his move to Norwich is not a step back – revealed that Hughton has told him he will be the club’s number one forward next term.

“Some people may see my transfer as a step back. But the Premier League is bigger than the Portuguese league,” Van Wolfswinkel said.

“Life is good in Portugal, but the football has to be on a certain level too. Sporting ended this season as seventh in the league.

“The club has not won prizes for many years. Sporting remains a big club, but especially because of its history.

“Norwich is a small club compared to Sporting, but also a friendly club with a beautiful stadium and good fans. That suits me.

“The manager said I will be his number one striker. I know I have to battle for it, but it’s always good to get the confidence.”

Van Wolfswinkel finished his Sporting Lisbon career with 42 goals in 86 matches in all competitions.
Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Browett: Zaha unlikely to return to Palace

Crystal Palace co-owner Steve Browett does not think Wilfried Zaha will return to the club on loan next season.

Zaha will join Manchester United ahead of 2013-14 and there had been talk of the forward being sent back to Selhurst Park on loan in order to play regular first-team football as part Palace’s return to the Premier League.

However, Browett claims the United will want Zaha among their squad during David Moyes’ first season at Old Trafford.

“I cannot believe Manchester United would spend that amount of money on a player and then loan him back,” Browett said.

“They had to loan him back now otherwise there was no deal, but going forward, he is good enough to play in their first team straight away in my opinion.

“So if I was David Moyes, I would be thinking of him in my first team squad at the very least, certainly not loaning him.”

While Browett is not convinced that Zaha will feature for Palace next season, he was clear that the board would look to finance improvements to the squad.

“We are not going to go crazy about transfers, but we are not just going to sit there and think that we do not need to improve the squad,” he explained.

“I think it is very important that you do not break up the team spirit, and that you have a nucleus there and you add to it. You get the right characters in, you do not necessarily get superstars who do not care.”
Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

International Friendly Preview: Lesotho v South Africa

South Africa will look to improve their mediocre recent form when they take on Lesotho in a friendly on Sunday.

While Gordon Igesund’s men sit second in group A of the African World Cup qualifiers, they have won just twice in their last six fixtures.

It will be their second game since exiting the African Cup of Nations at the quarter-final stage to Mali in February and Igesund will be keen for his side to build on their 2-0 win over over the Central African Republic in March.
Lesotho, on the other hand, will be looking for a positive performance to boost their flagging qualification campaign.
Leslie Notsi’s side face an uphill battle if they are to secure a place in Brazil next year as they currently sit in third place in group D, although they did gain a point in their last qualifier with a 1-1 draw against Zambia.
Prior to that, Lesotho both lost and won against Swaziland in friendly fixtures and a good result against South Africa could prove important ahead of two crucial qualifiers.
In June they travel to group-topping Zambia before welcoming second-place Ghana with anything other than two victories likely to end their hopes of qualification.
Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Sneijder not sorry to see Inter fail

Wesley Sneijder has claimed he feels little sympathy for former club Inter after their struggles in Serie A last season.

The Milanese club finished ninth in the Italian top-flight, racking up more losses than they ever have in a 20-team league campaign and failing to qualify for European competition.

Sneijder was frozen out of the side as Inter tried to negotiate his contract onto lower wages, with the Dutchman eventually joining Turkish side Galatasaray in January.

The playmaker admitted his anger at the treatment he received at San Siro, even claiming that he was tempted to give up the game.

“I feel very sorry for the players and fans, but I do not mind at all for others at the club that Inter finished only ninth this season and that the coach had to go,” Sneijder told De Telegraaf.

“They did not even clinch European football.

“Maybe now the policy makers at the club should think, perhaps even scratch the back of their ears, because what is happening to them now is not Inter-worthy.

“Inter tried to break me time and time again. Had I not had such a strong personality, I would have hung up my boots.

“A lot of people at the club are not worthy of my trust and respect. I had a lot of difficult moments, but what happened has made me stronger in the end.”
Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Karanka hints Mourinho deal is done

Real Madrid assistant Aitor Karanka claims Jose Mourinho has already accepted an offer to manage Chelsea and wants him at Stamford Bridge.

Saturday’s clash with Osasuna will be Mourinho’s last game in charge at the Bernabeu after it was announced that he will be leaving the club at the end of the current campaign.

It is widely expected that the Portuguese will head back to Stamford Bridge for next term to take charge of Chelsea once again, where he won two Premier League titles in 2005 and 2006.

Karanka, a former Real and Spain international defender, was appointed as Mourinho’s right-hand man in Madrid in 2010 and admitted that he could well be working with the ‘Special One’ once again in London soon.

However, he also affirmed his own management ambitions, suggesting that he is also considering an offer to lead a team in Ligue 1.

In the strongest hint yet that Mourinho’s future is at Stamford Bridge, Karanka said: “Mourinho offered me to go with him but Real Madrid haven’t told me I’m to be released.

“I’ve still got three years left on my contract and I’d have to pay them to leave,” he added in The Sun.

“If I leave, then I’ll join Mourinho at Chelsea, or else I’ll go and become head coach at a French top division club.”

Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Orbaiz leaves Rubin Kazan

Spanish midfielder Pablo Orbaiz will be leaving Rubin Kazan in the summer, according to the Russian club.

The Russian giants announced on their official website that the experienced midfielder was leaving the club in the summer transfer window.

“The club wants to thank Pablo for his performances last season and wishes him every success in the future, both in football and in his personal life,” the statement read.

Orbaiz only signed a one-year contract when he arrived from Athletic Bilbao last summer, and he has decided not to renew his deal.

The experienced midfielder played a key role in Kazan this season, making a total of 36 competitive appearances for the club.

Pablo Orbaiz spent most of his playing days at Athletic Bilbao, featuring in 263 La Liga matches and scoring 10 goals in the process.

He was loaned to Olympiakos during the 2011/2012 season and then decided to leave Athletic for Rubin last summer.

A return to Spanish La Liga appears on the cards, with a number of clubs from Spain’s top flight likely to move for the free agent.

Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Porto’s Atsu hints at Liverpool move

Porto hotshot Christian Atsu has all but confirmed speculations linking him with a summer switch to Liverpool.

The talented forward has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool over the past few weeks and it appears there is truth in the rumours.

After rejecting a new contract offer from Porto, Atsu looks set to join the Reds and he confirms he is interested in a move to England.

“I spoke with Porto before coming to this decision and informed them that I will not sign a new contract,” Atsu said to Sky Sports.

“The club told me what they want to do, and hopefully we can find a solution now.

“My dream is to play in England and it is very nice to see my name linked with big clubs in the Premier League. For now, I’m focused on my football, but I see my future in England. I hope to have some news soon.”

Atsu has just over a year left on his deal at Estadio do Dragao and after rejecting a new four-year contract he is likely to be sold in the summer transfer window.

The 21-year-old came through the youth ranks at Porto, but he has made just 17 league appearances for the Dragons so far.

Atsu, nonetheless, largely impressed while on loan at Rio Ave, while he was also in fine form as he represented Ghana at 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Bobic: We will look to overthrow Bayern

Stuttgart sporting director Fredi Bobic says his side will use Wigan’s FA Cup win as motivation ahead of Saturday’s DFB-Pokal final.

Stuttgart are rank underdogs against Bavarian giants Bayern Munich, who on Saturday added the UEFA Champions League title to their Bundesliga success this season.

Bayern finished 48 points ahead of the 12th-placed Stuttgart in the Bundesliga and won both league fixtures against them 8-1 on aggregate during the recently completed campaign.

But Bobic is still hopeful his side can cause an upset in Berlin, and says Wigan’s shock FA Cup success against Manchester City at Wembley can be used as inspiration.

“Clearly, we have a chance,” Bobic said.

“In England, did you think that Wigan Athletic would go on to the (FA Cup) final and win against Manchester City? Sure they considered who will play and such, nevertheless, they toppled the big favourites.”

Bobic, who made over 100 appearances for Stuttgart as a player, says the one-off nature of the fixture gives Stuttgart every chance and he hopes that his side can make the most of the rare occasion to play in a final against a Bayern side who have won the tournament on 15 occasions.

“It’s a one-off game with many unpredictable moments,” he said.

“Moreover, the trend of matches in the German Cup final shows that it certainly does not follow of how it should look on paper.

“Many think that we have certainly no chance of winning and are nothing more than Bayern’s next victim, but there’ve been worse (situations than this).

“It’s not normal for us to be in the final and therefore we look forward to the chance and will look to overthrow Bayern.”
Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Inter in talks over Zuniga, Basta

Inter have opened talks to sign Serie A footballers Camilo Zuniga and Dusan Basta, reports La Gazzetta dello Sport.

The Nerazzurri are expected to sign five new players in the summer transfer window and it appears they are first looking to reinforce the full-back positions.

According to La Gazzetta dello Sport, new Inter boss Walter Mazzarri is looking to bring Camilo Zuniga from Napoli.

The left-sided defender has spent last four years at Stadio San Paolo and he could be interested in a change of scenery, especially with Mazzarri now at Giuseppe Meazza.

Meanwhile, Inter have reportedly opened talks with Udinese over Dusan Basta, who has been performing at a very high level for a couple of years now.

The only problem is that Roma are also keen, although the Nerazzurri are hoping to outbid their Serie A rivals for the Serbian defender.

Dusan Basta has clocked up 75 Serie A appearances for the Zebrette, scoring 6 goals in the process.

Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed

Allegri set to meet Berlusconi on Sunday

Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi has revealed that he is likely to hold talks with club manager Massimiliano Allegri this weekend.

Allegri’s future at San Siro has been shrouded in doubt, despite leading Milan to a third-placed Serie A finish and qualification for the UEFA Champions League preliminary rounds last season.

The former Cagliari boss had to make do with seeing a number of high-profile players leave – including Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Thiago Silva and Alexandre Pato – while Clarence Seedorf, Alessandro Nesta and Gennaro Gattuso were among a plethora of club veterans who were moved on.

However, Berlusconi is now thought to be keen on getting rid of Allegri too, with Dutchman Seedorf touted as a possible candidate to replace him.

The 76-year-old revealed that he will look to set up a meeting between director Adriano Galliani, Allegri and himself this weekend.

Berlusconi told Mattino Cinque: “I think we will meet with Galliani and the coach probably by Sunday night.

“From there, a solution will emerge that is not difficult to find if everyone puts themselves in the right direction, looks to their conscience and tries to choose what is best for our Milan.”

If Allegri does leave Milan, he is widely expected to move to Roma, who are not offering caretaker boss Aurelio Andreazzoli a full-time role.

Fri 31 May, 2013
RSS Feed