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The latest football news from Spain covering La Liga, Barcelona, Real Madrid, Valencia, Sevilla, Atlético Madrid, Malaga etc.

La liga results - Match day 1
31 August 2009

Spanish football results roundup for matchday 1 of  La Liga 2009-10 season.

Saturday, 29th August 2009
Real Madrid 3 - 2 Deportivo de La Coruña  
Real Zaragoza 1 - 0 Tenerife
Sunday, 30th August 2009
Athletic de Bilbao 1 - 0 Espanyol  
Málaga 3 - 0 Atlético de Madrid  
Mallorca 2 - 0 Xerez  
Osasuna 1 - 1 Villarreal  
Racing 1 - 4 Getafe  
Valencia 2 - 0 Sevilla  
Almeria 0 - 0 Real Valladolid  
Monday, 31st August 2009
Barcelona 3 - 0 Sporting de Gijón


 



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Real Madrid 3-2 Deportivo
30 August 2009

Real Madrid began their assault on the Primera Division title with a confident attacking performance against Deportivo La Coruna. A flurry of goals midway through the first half saw Manuel Pellegrini's side take the lead at the break. While the home side's dominance was not reflected in the scoreline, the old defensive flaws were still evident in addition to a number of mistakes associated with a newly assmbled side.

Los Blancos' big guns were out in force in the Santiago Bernabeu, as Cristiano Ronaldo, Kaka, Karim Benzema and Xabi Alonso all started. Deportivo icon Juan Carlos Valeron took to the pitch for the visitors, while Brazilian midfielder Juca made his debut after signing from Partizan Belgrade.

Read the full match report here



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Barcelona ‘Love’ Arsenal Captain Cesc Fabregas - Joan Laporta
30 August 2009

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has reignited speculation over a move for Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas by admitting his club "love" the midfielder.

The young Spaniard has been linked with the European champions all summer but currently remains at the Emirates, with both player and club insisting he is happy in north London.

However, according to the News of the World, Laporta has spoken glowingly of Fabregas and has also insisted that he is a special case.

“I apologise if I bothered Mr. Wenger because I respect him very highly and the job he is doing but the case of Cesc Fabregas he knows perfectly is special,” explained the Barca chief.

“He is a Catalan player from our youth team and is it no secret that we love this player.

“We know he is one of the flagship players at Arsenal and we respect him.”

Laporta seems determined to sign Fabregas at some point, although with the transfer window set to slam shut in a matter of days it looks likely he will have to wait to capture his man.

“He played in the Champions League final with seven players who came through from our youth team: Victor Valdes, Carles Puyol, Gerard Pique, Sergi Busquets, Xavi, Andres Insieta and Lionel Messi,” added Laporta.

“The way we express our Catalan identity, that we are more than just a club, it is quite different to the ways other clubs operate.

“I prefer this way because I developed it in the seven years that I have been president.”

Source: goal.com



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Eidur Gudjohnsen Rejects Last Minute Manchester City Offer - Report
30 August 2009

Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen has reportedly rejected a last minute offer to move to Manchester City, in favour of a transfer to French side AS Monaco.

As has been previously reported by Goal.com, the Iceland international has been in negotiations to join Monaco and is expected to complete his transfer shortly.

However, the Sunday Mirror reports that Manchester City attempted to hijack the deal and lure the striker to Eastlands.

The tabloid claims that Mark Hughes’ side left their approach too late, however, and a deal had already been agreed between Monaco and Gudjohnsen.

Of course, City already have a vast array of attacking talent at the club having signed Emmanuel Adebayor, Roque Santa Cruz and Carlos Tevez this summer.

The trio join Craig Bellamy, Benjani and Robinho on the books at Eastlands, meaning there is fierce competition for places up front for the Citizens.

Gudjohnson, meanwhile, looks set to turn his back on a return to the Premier League after being linked with several English clubs this summer.

West Ham United were believed to be interested in signing the Barca forward, yet he now looks destined for a move to France.

Source: goal.com
 



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Zigic Set For Valencia Exit- Report
29 August 2009

Serbian forward may leave the Mestalla before the transfer deadline...

Valencia striker Nikola Zigic could be set to leave the club with AS reporting that Los Che are considering offers for the tall front man.

It is believed that one of the bids on the table for the 28-year-old is from Zenit St. Petersburg with Los Che holding out for a fee of between €8-10 million.

The Serbian has failed to make an impact since joining Los Che from Racing Santander in 2007, scoring just once in 15 appearances, but announced earlier this summer that he intends to stay at the Mestalla.

Zigic spent the second half of last season on loan at Racing and managed a very credible 13 goals in 19 games.

Valencia are said to be keen on Real Betis striker Sergio Garcia and the relegated outfit are reported to want €10 million for the 26-year-old, Barcelona-born striker.

Source: goal.com



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Sevilla Winger Duda Set For Permanent Malaga Move
29 August 2009

Sevilla winger Duda looks set to make his loan spell at Malaga permanent according to the players official website.

The 29-year-old dead ball specialist is set to sign a four-year deal with the Andalusian outfit with an option for another year.

Goal.com Spain reports that Malaga will pay in the region of €300,000 to Sevilla to make the Portuguese stars move to La Rosaleda permanent.

Duda previously had a five-year spell at Los Boquerones which ended in 2006 when Malaga were relegated to the Segunda Division. The winger joined neighbours Sevilla but only featured a total of 28 times for Los Nervionenses before being loaned back to Malaga at the start of last season.

He has been capped eight times by Portugal but a wealth of talent on the wings including Cristiano Ronaldo, Nani and Simao lead to him being used as an emergency left-back.

Duda could feature in Sunday's opener against Atletico Madrid.

Source: goal.com



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Barcelona 1-0 Shakhtar Donetsk
29 August 2009

Barcelona left it late to overcome a steely Shakhtar Donetsk side to win the European Super Cup at the Stade Louis II in Monaco.

After a goalless ninety minutes, and tired legs aplenty in extra time, young substitute Pedro Rodriguez combined well with Lionel Messi to net the decisive goal.

In doing so he added the Super Cup to Barca's 2009 trophy tally, which already includes the Liga, the Champions League, the Copa del Rey, and the Spanish Supercopa.

Barca started the game with good pace, especially down the flanks, Lionel Messi bringing out the best in Darijo Srna and then goalkeeper Andriy Pyatov.

Thierry Henry, playing on the other side, was just as impressive as a great solo action resulted in a neat shot that just went over the bar ten minutes in.

Most of the attacking play for the Miners, too, came down the wrings. Razvan Rat's cross for Ilsinho in the 15th minute was very close to connection before Seydou Keita managed a clearance.

From there Barcelona were the superior side for the remainder of the half, but only a Lionel Messi effort well saved by Pyatov just after the half hour mark really had the fans on their feet.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic, apparently lacking a bit of fitness, could have carved out a chance for himself just on the verge of the break, but a lack of control allowed Rat to tackle, and the half closed with a tentative handball claim against Shakhtar.

Shakhtar looked more accomplished defensively in the second period, especially in the centre, as they held the Blaugrana away from many clear-cut chances in the second period.

Part of the reason they did so was down to physical play, Ilsinho and Srna picking up early bookings, but in doing so they also freed themselves up on the counter. Were it not for a lack of cutting edge, and a great tackle from Eric Abidal on the hour mark, Fernandinho could have opened the scoring.

Twenty minutes from time Barcelona burst into a period of life. Thierry Henry came close with an acrobatic effort after a Dani Alves cross; Pyatov got a hand to a great Messi effort; and good work from Xabi and Henry resulted in a disappointing miss from Ibrahimovic.

That said, 'Ibra' had a good claim for a penalty turned down twelve minutes from time, his last real act before being substituted off.

There were to be no goals at all, though, as extra time loomed, and Shakhtar made two changes of their own.

As Bojan came on for Henry, there was sign that fatigue was taken its toll on other Blaugrana players as pacy Shakhtar substitute Julius Aghahowa was allowed one-on-one with Valdes, only for the forward to hesitate and Puyol to mop up.

But two minutes later Aghahowa showed composure to test Valdes from the edge of the area as the Blaugrana defence toiled behind.

Bojan's solo effort at the other end signalled the end of the first half of extra time, Luiz Adriano having a penalty claim against Sergio Busquets turned down at the restart, as the tired players edged towards the 120 minutes.

It seemed that penalties were inevitable, but Lionel Messi has never been one to face long odds with timidity. Instead he received the ball from Pedro outside the box and then threaded a marvellous return pass through the central defence for Pedro to slot home the winner.

Source: goal.com



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Champions League Draw 2009-2010
28 August 2009

Champions League draw for the 2009-10 season:

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux, Maccabi Haifa
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseilles, FC Zurich
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel Nicosia
Group E: Liverpool, Lyons, Fiorentina, Debrecen
Group F: Barcelona, Inter Milan, Dynamo Kiev, Rubin Kazan
Group G: Seville, Rangers, Stuttgart, Unirea Urziceni
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege



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Champions League: England's teams not a threat, says Real Madrid's Kaka
28 August 2009

Real Madrid forward Kaka believes it will be Spanish teams who dominate the Champions League this season and that the Premier League's representatives are not the force they once were.

Real have recruited Kaka, Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Karim Benzema to name but a few, while reigning champions Barcelona have brought in Zlatan Ibrahimovic, as a replacement for Samuel Eto'o, and Maxwell.

Most importantly for Barca, though, they have managed to keep hold of all their world class players, with the exception of Eto'o, meaning the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Xavi and Daniel Alves will continue to terrorise opposition defences under coach Pep Guardiola.

The 'Big Four', on the other hand, are weaker than they were in season's gone by, according to Kaka.

United have lost Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Liverpool have lost Alonso, Arsenal have lost Emmanuel Adebayor and Kolo Toure and it is only Chelsea who look as strong as they did in previous years, a fact noted by Kaka.

The Brazilian said: "The English teams have lost some important players while the top teams in Spain have kept hold of the top players and added some of the best in Europe.

"With the team Madrid now has, anything but becoming European champions is not good enough.

"Manchester United have lost some great players and are weaker than last season.

"Chelsea do not play the most exciting football in Europe but play one of the most effective forms.

"As things stand with their current players and manager, Chelsea are the team to be most feared from England.

"I love to watch Arsenal and it would be nice to see that style of football rewarded with a trophy.

"Liverpool are never an easy team to play. I had some great battles with them when I was at Milan and they are a team which is suited to European football."

As it happens, the English teams have the easiest route into the Champions League knock-out stages following the draw to decide the groups.

Arsenal have been drawn alongside AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos and Standard Liege, Man United take on CSKA Moscow, Besiktas and Wolfsburg, Liverpool play Lyon, Fiorentina and Debreceni, while Chelsea tackle Porto, Atletico Madrid and Apoel Nicosia.

Real, by contrast, must get past Kaka's former team AC Milan, Marseille and FC Zurich if they are to progress, while Barcelona have arguably an ever tougher task against Inter Milan, Dinamo Kiev and Rubin Kazan.

Scottish hopes lie with Rangers and their supporters will be full of optimism after being placed in Group G alongside Sevilla, Stuttgart and Unirea Urziceni of Romania.

Source: The Telegraph



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Champions League: Cristiano Ronaldo desperate to win title with Real Madrid
28 August 2009

Former Manchester United winger Cristiano Ronaldo is determined to make up for the disappointment of losing last season's Champions League final by lifting the trophy as a Real Madrid player.

United were outclassed by Barcelona back in May, losing 2-0 inside Rome's Olympic Stadium.

It was billed as Ronaldo v Lionel Messi in the run-up to the match, but the Portuguese was outshone by his Argentinian rival and the 24-year-old still thinks back to what might have been.
 
A world-record £80 million summer move to Real followed for Ronaldo, who will team up alongside the likes of Kaka, Xabi Alonso, Raul, Karim Benzema and Ruud van Nistelrooy at the Bernabeu.

President Florentino Perez's £200m spending spree has made Real one of the clear favourites to wrestle the Champions League trophy away from bitter rivals Barcelona, and Ronaldo is determined to ensure that happens.

He told Sport Magazine: "Football doesn't always go as you would like but it does still bother me that we lost that game.

"You have to respect Barcelona because they won three big titles last season and that says a lot about their strength but I don't think they were better than us. They were just more efficient when they got their chances.

"The only thing I am not happy about in my final year was that we could not win the Champions League final again but I did all I could for Manchester United.

"I appreciate that United accepted to let me go and I think that I ended my time at the club in the best possible way.

"I don't think anyone can look at my recent years at United and say that I did not do my best.

"Even after I was close to Real Madrid last year and stayed at United, I was focused in giving everything I had in me.

"We won the championship for the third year in a row and reached the second Champions League final in two years."

Real's quest to win the trophy has not been made easy following the draw for the group stages.

Real must get past AC Milan, Marseille and FC Zurich in Group C if they are to reach the knock-out round of the competition.

Source: The Telegraph



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Champions League draw lets big four avoid Real Madrid threat
28 August 2009

Manchester United and Chelsea declared themselves pleased last night after dodging a series of bullets during the draw for the Champions League group stage. Liverpool and Arsenal were also given cause for relief, and the Premier League clubs must privately expect to fashion routes to next year's knockout rounds.

United were unlucky to pull the German champions, Wolfsburg, out of pot four, while Chelsea were given Atlético Madrid from pot three, but it could have been so much worse for England's representatives. The real dangers lurked in the shape of Real Madrid, Internazionale and Juventus, but the trio all passed into different groups.

Real were drawn with Milan in Group C – so Kaká, one of Real's star summer signings, will play against his old team – and Inter were paired with Barcelona in Group F. José Mourinho, the Inter manager, has history with his Catalan former employers, from his time at Chelsea.

"Pot four was the interesting one and I think most teams would have preferred not to get the German champions, but overall we have got to be happy," said United's chief executive David Gill, whose club also face CSKA Moscow and Besiktas. "We look forward to going back to Moscow, where we enjoyed such great scenes in 2008," he added, referring to the European Cup final win over Chelsea.

"We are looking to go one step further [and win the Champions League]," said Peter Kenyon, the Chelsea chief executive, whose club also face Porto and Apoel Nicosia of Cyprus, "so we have to get through this stage. Overall, there is not too much travel and we managed to avoid one of the big ones. We will all be reasonably pleased with the draw.

"We have been one of the most consistent sides in Europe, but winning it would take us to another level. It's getting to the stage where we deserve it, after having five semi-finals."

Arsenal drew AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos and Standard Liege. "We are playing the champions from the Dutch, Greek and Belgian leagues, three good leagues," said the club's chief executive Ivan Gazidis, "and there is a reason why they are in this competition. Some people will look at it and think this is an automatic pass for Arsenal, but we don't see it that way at all."

Liverpool, at one stage, had a one-in-three chance of drawing Real but they ended up with Lyon from pot two. Fiorentina and the Hungarian champions Debreceni complete their group.

The draw in full

Group A: Bayern Munich, Juventus, Bordeaux , Maccabi Haifa
Group B: Manchester United, CSKA Moscow, Besiktas, Wolfsburg
Group C: AC Milan, Real Madrid, Marseille, FC Zurich
Group D: Chelsea, Porto, Atletico Madrid, Apoel FC
Group E: Liverpool, Lyon, Fiorentina, Debreceni
Group F: Barcelona, Internazionale, Dynamo Kiev, FC Rubin Kazan
Group G: Sevilla, Rangers, VfB Stuttgart, Unirea Uriziceni
Group H: Arsenal, AZ Alkmaar, Olympiakos, Standard Liege

Source: The Guardian



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Barcelona Star Lionel Messi Will Have A €300m Release Clause In New Contract - Report
27 August 2009

The Argentine star is close to agreeing terms on a new contract at Camp Nou...

An agreement between Barcelona and Leo Messi on the Argentine's new contract is imminent, according to Marca.

Due to the exorbitant wage of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Inter, the Catalan side were forced to give the Swede a higher pay packet than Messi. The Argentine's position as the highest paid player at the club was affected, as Ibrahimovic is currently on an annual salary of €9.5 million.

However, Messi, his representatives and the club's officials have now almost agreed terms on a contract worth €10m-per-season, while setting the mandatory release clause at €300m.

The formalities of the contract should be agreed on in the coming days, although Marca reports that it will take a little longer for the 22-year-old to put pen to paper.

Source: goal.com



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UEFA threatens clubs in debt of Champs League ban
27 August 2009

MONACO — UEFA has warned European soccer clubs they must break even or face being barred from the Champions League.

UEFA president Michel Platini said Thursday he wants new financial rules by 2012 to stop clubs from spending more on buying players than they generate in soccer-related income.

An independent financial control panel would warn and fine clubs before expelling them from the competition.

UEFA's stand could threaten Manchester United and Liverpool — whose American owners borrowed heavily to buy the clubs — and Real Madrid, which used bank loans to fund a recent spending spree.

The governing body of European soccer also wants to stop benefactors, such as the Arab owners of Manchester City, from driving up the cost of transfers and wages.



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Wesley Sneijder slams Real Madrid as his Inter move draws near
27 August 2009

The Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder is set to complete his move to Internazionale from Real Madrid after claiming the Spanish side treated him "very badly".

The clubs have yet to confirm the deal but the Spanish and Italian media have reported the clubs had agreed a fee of €15m (£13m) with another €3m linked to the player's performance and appearances .

"What happened with me is very strange," said Sneijder. "They [Real Madrid] treated me very badly but to tell the truth I would prefer not to talk about it.

"I am going to a great club, of that I have no doubt. I am very sad to leave but that's the way it is."

Sneijder, who is reported to have agreed a five-year contract with a net annual salary of €4m, claims he is being pushed out of the door by Real, who are trying to trim their squad after a huge spending spree on a number of top players including Kaká, Cristiano Ronaldo and Xabi Alonso.

Source: The Guardian



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La Liga may be world's best league, concedes Rio Ferdinand
27 August 2009

With Spain increasingly the destination of choice for the world's top players, Rio Ferdinand has conceded that La Liga can claim to host football's best league. However, the Premier League can reassert its supremacy in the Champions League, added the defender, whose Manchester United team-mate Ronaldo joined Milan's Kaká and Internazionale's Zlatan Ibrahimovic in moving to Spain in big-money deals this summer.

"La Liga have bought marquee players – I think Ronaldo obviously, Kaká and Ibrahimovic are three of the best players in the world and any team would like to have them," Ferdinand said. "They've all gone to La Liga alongside the likes of [Lionel] Messi, [Andrés] Iniesta, Xavi [Hernández] and people like that. So they've got a claim to being the best league in the world.

"I think the last three or four years we've had English teams in the semi-finals of the Champions League so that says it all about where the Premier League is at at the moment. This season we have to wait and see if we're still the best league in the world or not."

However, United face competition for the world's best players from a club closer to home after Manchester City spent heavily this summer.

"I'm sure they will be hoping to be up there and trying to contend for the top four spots," said Ferguson of United's local rivals. "You've got to look at it as a fan: it's great when there are more contenders for the league title.

"You can see the social issues and the social ethics of saying the world's in recession at the moment and it may be wiser to spend it in different ways, but who am I to tell them to spend their money in a different way?"

When asked if he wished United were throwing around money like City, Ferdinand said: "I'd be a lot more envious and maybe a bit jealous if I didn't have the squad that I've got in my training room. I'm confident we can win every game."

But United have made a stuttering start to their campaign for a fourth straight Premier League title – and record 19th overall – having beaten Birmingham and Wigan, but losing to promoted Burnley.

"We all know we've started badly on the last few occasions in the past couple of seasons," Ferdinand said. "We've managed to win it and hopefully this can be the same scenario."

There was no gloating from Ferdinand about Liverpool losing their second match of the season on Monday to Aston Villa.

"It's early days. You don't win the league in the first couple of weeks of the season, you win towards the end when you put a few good results together and you go through the thick of the Christmas period, and if you get through on top there, hopefully you can get over the line."

These are frustrating times for the 30-year-old Ferdinand having spent the opening weeks of the season as a spectator while recovering from a thigh injury. Despite being sidelined at times last season with back and calf problems, Ferdinand has no worries about his long-term fitness and has targeted a 12 September return against Tottenham.

"People made a bit more of it than it was – last season was the first season in a long career so far that I've had a sustained period out of the team," said Ferdinand. "I played 40-odd games last season which is more than most other players in the league – so I'm not doing too badly. A lot of players would be happy to start 40-odd games."

When he is away from the pitch, Ferdinand is developing a new career as a digital publisher. For the latest edition of online magazine 5 – Ferdinand's shirt number – he has interviewed United fan Usain Bolt and Roger Federer.

"This is something I can do to get my mind off the game," Ferdinand said. "As a kid I think I thought about the game too much, but now I think about it at the right times."

Source: The Guardian



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Ibrahimovic: Serie A Is Too Defensive And Barcelona Is Deeper Than Inter
26 August 2009

Barcelona's top summer signing Zlatan Ibrahimovic has called Italian football too defensive, suggesting there is little joy to be had when playing in such a system.

The former Ajax player joined the Blaugrana from Serie A champions Inter this summer in a deal worth over €40 million, plus striker Samuel Eto'o.

"In Italy, all the squads are strong in defense and defend much more than attack," he insisted in an interview with tuttocampo.

"Here, it is not as stressful as when I played with Inter. The pace and atmosphere is more relaxed and I can concentrate on football."

Meanwhile, the Swede commented on the spending of Spanish sides this summer and also took a swipe at his former team's depth in the process.

"La Liga took the two best players from Serie A and the Premier League, this league is very special," he said.

"Playing against Barcelona, the opponents must pay attention to many more players [that are threats] - not like against Inter."

Source: goal.com



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Real Madrid Star Cristiano Ronaldo: I Have Nothing To Prove To Anyone
26 August 2009

Real Madrid midfielder Cristiano Ronaldo says he has "nothing to prove" and has no worries about his middling pre-season form.

With the new season kicking off in three days, the 24-year-old says the whole Galacticos squad is looking forward to competitive football, which starts with an away tie against Deportivo La Coruna.

"The entire team is waiting for the start of the league, I hope things go well and we can enjoy a win at Depor," said Ronaldo, according to AS.

"I don't worry about my form. The only important thing is that Madrid win. I am calm, working hard and I am with a fantastic group."

While he sought to avoid comparisons with treble champions Barcelona, the former Manchester United superstar says that there is no pressure on Los Blancos.

"We don't think about Barcelona. We must do a good job all year and see how far we get. We have no pressure," he remarked.

Source: goal.com



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Real Madrid Director Jorge Valdano Critical Of Barcelona
26 August 2009

The Argentine has lambasted Barca, accusing them of double standards on the transfer market...

Real Madrid sporting director Jorge Valdano has launched an attack on fierce rivals Barcelona, according to AS.

Following Barca's signing of Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 53-year-old Valdano criticised the Blaugrana for not practising what they preached. This was in response to Barcelona president Joan Laporta, who had earlier this summer criticised Los Merengues for the signings of Kaka and Ronaldo for €68.5 million and €94m respectively.

"The church appears to be above religion, when they signed Ibrahimovic they didn't practice what they preached. It surprised me that they didn't apply the same rules as Cristiano Ronaldo to the Ibrahimovic transfer," said Valdano.

The Argentinian also suggested that the Catalans were "inward focused", unlike Madrid, who "look outward".

The former Madrid trainer also had praise for new coach Manuel Pellegrini, who he described as being "a man who knows Spanish football perfectly, who comes to Madrid with a professional maturity", but acknowledged his first choice to takeover from Juande Ramos was Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.

Source: goal.com



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Real Madrid: Season 2009-10 Preview
25 August 2009

The Galacticos are back! Love them or hate them, there’s simply no way to avoid their presence as the eyes of the world will be set on the latest batch of superstars from the Spanish capital. Goal.com’s KS Leong assesses their upcoming campaign…

Real Madrid spent the entirety of the 2008-09 season in Barcelona’s shadow. Not only did Los Merengues have to endure a shambolic mess in the boardroom, they had to put up with the unprecedented treble success of eternal enemies Barcelona.

But ironically, it is the glorious Catalan triumph that has spurred the ‘White House’ to undergo an unparalleled revolution as they look to ensure that they will never have to suffer such ignominy ever again. And the place to start was, of course, the shopping window.

Summer Market

President Florentino Perez transformed football transfers when he took control of Madrid for the first time back in 2000, and now, nine years later, he has completely changed the face of market once again, although most will argue that it has had a negative effect on the world game.

Never has a club been so audacious, ambitious and extravagant in rebuilding a squad in one single summer. And never has a club spent over €250 million in a space of just two months, an average of €30 million a week. Fans and readers need no reminder how much Senor Perez splashed out to acquire Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. But for Madridistas, how much was spent is irrelevant. It’s the fact that the construction tycoon delivered what he had promised… and then some.

However, the market is not all about buying, and unlike most other clubs, it is selling off their players that has been the major issue this summer. Fringe players such as Javi Garcia, Javier Saviola, Alvaro Negredo and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar have already left, as have veterans Michel Salgado, Fabio Cannavaro and Gabriel Heinze, but the club are still scrambling desperately to off-load either Rafael van der Vaart or Wesley Sneijder to boost their transfer income closer to the €60m mark.

Read the rest of the article here



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Barcelona: Season 2009-10 Preview
25 August 2009

Pep Guardiola and Barcelona in many ways face an impossible season.

At times during 2008-09 their football flirted with perfection, a veritable feast of offensive excellence and defensive diligence. Their Champions League triumph rounded off an unprecedented Triplete that included The Primera Division and Copa del Rey, and purists widely proclaimed the Blaugrana as the greatest team in the World today.

However, their bitter rivals Real Madrid have done their utmost to recapture some of the limelight with a relentless flow of blue-chip signings in an effort to reclaim their La Liga crown. Their efforts to build a side to vanquish the Catalonian club highlight the regard in which Guardiola's side is held, and the stage is set for a gargantuan tussle between Spanish football’s heavyweights.

Summer Market

At one stage Barcelona appeared destined to remain cloaked in the shadow of the new arrivals pulling up at the Bernabeu, but they eventually showed their hand, and in some style.

The mooted Samuel Eto’o-plus-cash deal for Inter striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic seemed to be in development for an age, but eventually the Swede was handed the opportunity to improve a near-flawless starting line-up. Eto’o reluctantly moved to the San Siro amidst rumours that he and coach Guardiola had not seen eye-to-eye. The one aspect of the deal that remains certain is that Ibrahimovic has a formidable strike rate to follow in the form of his Cameroonian predecessor.

While the Swede was being paraded as the flagship signing for the new season, another arrival from Inter solved what had been a problem position for Pep Guardiola. With the exit of the veteran Sylvinho, left-back Maxwell has been added for a reputed fee of €3.5 million and the Brazilian will battle for a starting berth with French international Eric Abidal.

There was also of course the arrival and subsequent departure of wonder-kid Keirrison from Palmerias for €14m, then to Benfica for a season-long loan. The 20-year old will be allowed consistent first-team action in Portugal that he could never be afforded at the Camp Nou, and Guardiola will hope he returns next season a more rounded player who has adapted to the European game.

Read the rest of the article here



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Real Madrid's Wesley Sneijder set to complete Inter switch
25 August 2009

The Real Madrid midfielder Wesley Sneijder is expected to complete his move to Internazionale after another round of talks over a reported £3.5million-a-year salary demand.

Reports in Italy claim a fee rising to £15.7m has been agreed for the transfer and that a compromise over the personal terms has now been reached.

An integral figure as Real won the Primera División in 2007-08, Sneijder has since suffered from both injuries and poor form. However, the Dutch magazine Sportweek yesterday quoted Sneijder as saying he did not want to leave the Bernabéu.

"I continue thinking that Real is the best club in the world, even though they want to transfer me," Sneijder said. "My intention is to continue here until I am told to leave.

"If I am still here on 1 September then the club cannot transfer me and this increases my chances of playing with Madrid. The coach sees me as part of the team."

Source: The Guardian



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La Liga live on Sky
25 August 2009

Sky Sports has signed a new deal for exclusive live coverage of La Liga for the next three seasons.

The new deal for Spain's top league covers the 2009-10, 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons and Sky Sports will broadcast at least two live matches from each weekend of the season.

The coverage begins this Saturday with Real Madrid v Deportivo from 7.00pm on Sky Sports 2, followed by two newly promoted sides; Real Zaragoza v Tenerife, at 9.00pm.

Sunday's live game will be Valencia v Sevilla from 6pm on Sky Sports 2, while champions Barcelona v Sporting Gijon is available on Bank Holiday Monday from 8pm on Sky Sports 1 (the first half is available via the red button).

Revista de La Liga, Sky Sports' weekly Spanish football magazine show, also returns on Tuesday September 1 at 5.30pm on Sky Sports1.

Announcing the deal, Barney Francis, Sky Sports Managing Director said: "We are delighted to continue our long association with the best in Spanish football - it's now 13 years since Sky Sports viewers first enjoyed the glamour of La Liga.

"With Ronaldo and Kaka joining Real Madrid, the challenge for Barcelona's treble winners will be intense and should provide more compulsive viewing."

Sky Sports Spanish football expert Gerry Armstrong added: "Of course it'll be fascinating to see Ronaldo and Kaka lead the challenge with Real Madrid, but we all saw just how good Barcelona were last season and with Ibrahimovic leading the line they can only get better.

"Also, watch out for Atletico Madrid with 'Kun' Aguero and Diego Forlan, and Villareal, without the pressure of the Champions League, also have some very talented players."

Sky Sports viewers can also catch the best South American talent in World Cup qualifiers including Argentina v Brazil - the third of three CONMEBAL Group qualifiers live on Saturday 5 September - following Peru v Uruguay and Paraguay v Bolivia from 9.30pm on Sky Sports 1.

Other live football on Sky Sports for the 2009-10 season includes: 92 live matches from the Barclays Premier League; Up to 80 live matches form the Coca-Cola Football League; 30 live matches from the Clydesdale Bank Premier League; live ties from the Carling Cup and the Scottish Cup; live matches from Northern Ireland's IFA Premiership and live international football, including crucial home World Cup Qualifiers for Northern Ireland, Republic of Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

Source: Sky Sports



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Nemanja Vidic dismisses talk of leaving Manchester United
25 August 2009

Nemanja Vidic has distanced himself from suggestions that he is seeking a move away from Manchester United to Spain or Italy by insisting that he remains "committed" to the Premier League champions.

Vidic, who returned from a calf injury to make his first appearance of the season in Saturday's 5-0 victory at Wigan, has been strongly linked with moves to Barcelona and AC Milan in recent months, with rumours persisting that the Serbian defender's wife, Ana, is unsettled in Manchester.

Doubts over Vidic's future increased last week when comments on a Spanish radio station attributed to his representative, Paolo Fabbri, suggested that the player would be "delighted" to join Barcelona. But Fabbri issued a swift denial on the same day that he had spoken about any move to the Nou Camp.

With his United contract due to run until 2012, manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted at the weekend that Vidic would not be leaving and discussions with a view to extending that contract are understood to have already taken place.

Vidic has now moved to underline his desire to remain at Old Trafford by claiming that neither he nor his wife are seeking to move away from the north-west.

Vidic said: "Anyone who is a fan of United would only have to see how I played at Wigan to know how committed I am to United.

"The first thing to say is that I have personally never said anything about Barcelona or AC Milan or any club. It is other people speaking about it.

"I never speak about my future, so I don't really know why someone else is. I showed at Wigan on the pitch by how I played how happy I am at this club. I'm here and I'm committed. I'll always show that with how I play in matches."

Vidic, 27, said he had spoken to his agent in an effort to bring an end to the speculation over his future that first surfaced during the January transfer window.

He said: "Yes, I have spoken to my agent. I know about all the rumours, but I don't want it to have an impact on the club.

"It's not a good time for my club to be hearing those rumours. And it is not my true that my wife is not happy. I don't know how that rumour came out because she's never spoken to any newspaper."

Vidic added: "She's not what you'd call a famous wife and she is not always doing interviews or getting in the papers or anything like that."

Source: The Telegraph



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Cristiano Ronaldo Needs More Time - Real Madrid Coach Manuel Pellegrini
25 August 2009

The Portuguese star is expected to be ready for the start of the Primera Division campaign...

Real Madrid coach Manuel Pellegrini has told AS that Cristiano Ronaldo has not fully adapted to playing for Real Madrid but he isn't far off.

"In pre-season there has been a lot of hard work and Cristiano has had to cope with many changes - a new country, a new league - and that takes time to adapt. I think he'll be in good form for the start of La Liga," said the Chilean.

On the whole the gaffer has been impressed with his team in pre-season and feels things have taken shape the way he would like.

"The team has done well in pre-season and we will have many options to make a first eleven. We will look to have possession, create chances and win, that is what fans want to see," he remarked.

The former Villarreal coach is also refusing to set any long-term objectives for his new-look Madrid side, claiming that three points in the season opener away to Deportivo La Coruna is the objective for now.

"Setting a long-term goal would be unwise. We need to start with three points against Depor and show week by week that we are prepared," added Pellegrini.

Source: goal.com



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Real Madrid 4-0 Rosenborg
25 August 2009

Real Madrid made it six consecutive Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu victories by crushing Rosenborg in front of a capacity home crowd.

Their 20th win in the commemorative pre-season match was all but assured after a blitzing first half in which Karim Benzema netted twice and Lass Diarra scored a screamer.

Raul added a fourth in a second half in which, despite a flurry of substitutions, saw little let-up in the pace of the game - one that Rosenborg were ill-equipped to deal with.

The Norwegian side were late replacements for AC Milan, the Italian outfit withdrawing due to city security concerns on a week on which Atletico Madrid host Panathinaikos.

Within minutes the visitors from the north were under threat, Cristiano Ronaldo shooting over the bar after being put through by Lassana Diarra.

But the home fans did not have to wait long for the opener as Marcelo played a lovely chip down the line with his right foot, with Karim Benzema controlling it and swerving a finish in with his second touch.

The pressure was largely one-way from there, with only some good movement from Rade Prica really threatening the hosts. Madrid, meanwhile, had the upper hand.

Twenty-six minutes in it was 2-0. Lassana Diarra cut inside with a neat dummy and, with no black shirts in sight, took his time before launching a 20-yarder past Hansen, to the surprise of most.

Karim Benzema managed his own second straight from kick-off. Cristiano Ronaldo charged down the left before feeding Benzema, who cut inside and surprised the defence and goalkeeper alike with a left-footed effort.

The pressure died down a little from there, but with three goals to their name the Blancos had the crowd on their side.

After the break Madrid began the first of many substitutions, but their hunger for goals was not sated. A fourth came as Raul headed home an Esteban Granero corner: a well-taken finish to be sure, but the lack of marking from the Trondheim outfit will disappoint coach Erik Hamren.

Still, arguably the biggest cheer of the night was reserved for the introduction as substitutes of Ruud van Nistelrooy and Mamadou Diarra, who entered as substitutes 15 minutes from time. Ruud last played in October 2008, while Diarra's absence began in March of this year.

Indeed, matches like this serve more as instrumental occasions than as proper contests. For Madrid, it was a chance to show off some new signings to a packed house, and welcome back two long-term absentees. Rosenborg, back atop the Norwegian league, will reflect on the need for improvement before next season's Champions League.

Source: goal.com



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Valencia confirm cash boost
24 August 2009

Loan agreement set to ease financial woes

Valencia have been handed a major financial boost which they hope will stabilise the cash-strapped club.

President Manuel Llorente has confirmed that a loan of 74million euros (£64.3m) has been secured with a view to acquiring a 72.5 percent stake in the club.

Local bank Bancaja has agreed to lend the cash to the club's charitable foundation, with the loan being guaranteed by the Valencia regional government, the Generalitat.

The foundation plans to buy the remaining 1.53million shares available in a capital increase which, the club added, has already raised around 18.75m euros (£16.3m).

"From this point a new era of stability begins and the players can concentrate fully on their game," Llorente said in a statement on the club's official website.

"We have saved a very difficult and worrying situation."

Valencia's foundation plans to make shares available to those who had not been able to take part in the initial phase of the capital increase.

"At last the club is being returned to the Valencia fans," Llorente added.

Valencia finished sixth in the Primera Liga last season to qualify for the Europa League.

But their financial woes forced a halt to construction on a new stadium and officials said they might have to sell prize assets such as Spain internationals David Villa and David Silva.

Valencia's debts of some 500m euros (£434m) rival those of Real Madrid and Barcelona yet they lack the vast earning power of the two Primera Liga giants.

Source: Sky Sports



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Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Bilbao (5-1 agg.): Messi Show Sees Barcelona Lift Spanish Super Cup
24 August 2009

Barcelona thrashed Athletic Bilbao at Camp Nou 3-0 to record a 5-1 aggregate victory in the Supercopa - the Culers' fourth major trophy of 2009.

Holding a 2-1 advantage from the first leg, the home fans had to wait until the second half to see the goals, two coming from Lionel Messi and a third from Bojan Krkic.

Athletic had to score at least twice after a first leg in which they took the lead only to be defeated. As such they began with intensity.

But as any observer of the Spanish game knows, attacking at Camp Nou can result in counter-attacks, and with the Blaugrana also having more sense on the ball in midfield it was a dangerous game in the early stages.

Still, the first true chance didn't come until the 22nd minute, a Pablo Orbaiz free-kick after a Carles Puyol foul on Joseba Exteberria forcing a rather smooth save from Victor Valdes.

Right down at the other end Thierry Henry headed wide after good work from the indefatigable Xavi, and Barca began to threaten in earnest.

Xavi and Lionel Messi both forced saves from Gorka Iraizoz as the half-hour mark approached, and although it took Zlatan Ibrahimovic 40 minutes ago to register his first real chance - a great scissor kick from a Messi cross - the Blaugrana went in the happier side at the break.

They were to become even more pleased four minutes after the restart, a solo effort from Lionel Messi that will populate highlight reels for years to come. Skinning Ustariz, he cut into the box and clipped the ball from a tight angle past Iraizoz.

It was all Barca after that, and twenty-five minutes from time an Athletic side rejuvenated by substitutions appeared to lose hope as they conceded a penalty. Ustariz and Dani Alves clashed in the Athletic area, the Brazilian went down, and referee Velasco Carballo pointed to the spot.

This decision was met with no small measure of protest from the visitors - Ustariz picking up a booking for his part in the remonstrance - and at first and indeed second glance there did not appear to be anything wrong with the challenge.

Nonetheless, Messi did the honours and scored convincingly from the spot to put the tie all but beyond doubt.

Ustariz's evening went from worse to even worse as he then sold the third goal with a careless back-pass that Bojan Krkic - on the pitch for just two minutes - seized on to score a simple one-on-one.

Athletic closed the game in a sour mood, wayward tackles and poor clearances abounding, as Barcelona steeled themselves for something that they must almost be getting tired of: a trophy presentation.

That makes it 12 Supercopas for the Camp Nou side, and adds to a cabinet already including the Copa del Rey, the Champions League, and of course the Liga trophies for 2009.

Source: goal.com



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Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu Preview: Real Madrid - Rosenborg
24 August 2009

Los Blancos will warm up for one final time before competitive football begins...
In their final test of the pre-season, Real Madrid prepare for the Trofeo Santiago Bernabeu, a historic cup contested this year between Los Blancos and Norwegian side Rosenborg.

With the Madrid squad almost completely finalised, save a few Dutch players that may yet see the exit (namely Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder — the latter whom is still greatly liked by a number of Madridistas according to Marca and AS polls), and the new Galactico signings beginning to understand one another on the pitch, the ‘Floren Team’ prepares for one more warm-up match before La Liga kicks off next weekend against Deportivo La Coruna at the Santiago Bernabeu.

With all tickets sold, even in a stagnating Spanish economy, the Bernabeu is on schedule to be filled to the brim for Monday’s match, as Madridistas will be eager to assess the state of Los Blancos’ play.

With Barcelona claiming their first title of the year in the form of the Spanish Supercopa on Sunday, Madrid fans will be eager to see their team exhibit their football.

And since Los Blancos will not be facing Milan, as was initially planned for the cup tie, the Bernabeu will be demanding a goal scoring clinic against the relatively small, albeit still still-historic, Rosenborg.

Out of hospital Mahamadou Diarra and Ruud van Nistelrooy are the notable additions to the squad list for the match. After suffering grave injuries that kept them out for eight and ten months respectively, the players return to the Madrid ranks for their first taste of football in nearly a year. Both will be likely to enjoy minutes, as Manuel Pellegrini will look to determine the players’ roles in the new Madrid squad.

Pellegrini will be unable to field his preferred central defence of Raul Albiol and Christoph Metzelder, who are likely to be the starting centre-backs against Depor this upcoming weekend because of Pepe’s extended suspension. The German has picked up a knock and had to be discounted from the squad list. Similarly, Sergio Ramos and Miguel Torres are out with minor injuries, while Wesley Sneijder and Rafa van der Vaart have been dropped from the squad as the Madrid front offices attempt to determine whether either player will still be playing at the Spanish capital this season.

Homage to Michel

Somewhat unceremoniously dropped from the team this summer as Los Blancos decided to opt out of the last year of the defender’s contract, Michel Salgado will give his formal goodbye to the fans in the preamble of this match.

In a gesture attempting to honour the former Madrid great, the fans will have their opportunity to give the Galician a much-deserved ovation after the player, who now plays for Premier League side Blackburn Rovers, will be recognised for ten years of service to Los Merengues, helping them win four Liga titles, two Champions League trophies, three Spanish Supercopas and two UEFA Super Cups along the way.

A bittersweet ending to a brilliant career, but one that will be quickly forgotten if Pellegrini’s Madrid manages to rack up goals early and often.

Source: goal.com



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Espanyol try to recover from Daniel Jarque loss
18 August 2009

The Catalans have stepped up training ahead of their league opener in Bilbao...

Espanyol's coaching staff are keen for their players to overcome the tragic death of captain Dani Jarque ahead of the beginning of the new season, according to AS.

Jarque died as a result of heart failure during Los Periquitos' pre-season training in Italy.

Coach Mauricio Pochettino welcomed a number of players back to full training at their training ground in San Cugat, Catalunya. David García, Moisés Hurtado and Ben Sahar all trained with the first team after missing three sessions last week due to a flu virus.

Ivan Alonso and Nico Young are both absent with similar throat infections, while veteran midfielder Ivan de la Pena continues his recuperation from injury. The 'Little Buddha' is entering his ninth season as an Espanyol player, and his 17th year as a professional.

Shunsuke Nakamura, who signed earlier this summer from Celtic, did not train.

Despite missing several days of training after last week's tragedy, the Espanyol players are said to be in good physical shape and the coaching staff have said that recovering from the loss of their captain is now top priority.

Source: Goal.com



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Fernando Torres proud to play for Liverpool
18 August 2009

Liverpool forward Fernando Torres said he was delighted to play for the club and vowed to improve his game.

"I'm very proud because when I came from Atletico I just wanted to play some games and see if I could play in a top team like Liverpool," Torres told the club's official website.

"Now two years later I think I am improving a lot, and I think I can improve a lot yet. I am still young, just 25."

The Spanish forward gave his reaction to signing a contract that ties him to Liverpool until at least 2013, with an optional year on top.

"I'm really happy. I hope I have a lot of seasons to play here," said the striker.

"I'm happy because I went right from Atletico, I had never played in the Champions League before, and Liverpool gave me the opportunity to play against the best teams in the world.

"I am really happy to sign a new contract with Liverpool and I hope I can sign more contracts in the future here.

"I feel good because the fans are fantastic with me. Every week it is amazing to see all the fans singing my name and my song. I am very proud to play for Liverpool," he continued.

"It is one of the most important clubs in Europe; the club with the best fans in the world, I am sure about that; and one of the clubs with the most history in modern football."

Looking forward to Liverpool's next Premier League game against Stoke City, Torres said he was expecting a tough game.

"We know them, we know last season we played against them and it was really difficult," El Nino said.

"We couldn't win against them, so we are waiting for a very defensive team. They will try to score from set pieces or from a long ball, but we have to be offensive and go from the first minute until the end to try to score. And if we can score in the first minute I am sure we can win."

Torres admitted the game against Stoke was the perfect opportunity to forget about the opening game of the season, which his side lost 2-1 to Tottenham Hotspur.

"The best thing when you lose is having a game three days later because we have the chance to forget about Tottenham," he explained.

"It is disappointing when you cannot win, but I think we have to improve, we have to be positive. We can get three points and we are on our way."

Source: Goal.com



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Barcelona To Make Offer For Manchester United Defender Nemanja Vidic
17 August 2009

The European champions are said to be interested in bringing the powerful defender to the Camp Nou...

Barcelona could be set to re-ignite their interest in Manchester United defender Nemanja Vidic, and are preparing a bid for the Serbian, according to reports.

English tabloid The Daily Mirror suggests that the Blaugrana have suspended negotiations with Shakhtar Donetsk over the transfer of Dmytro Chygrynskiy, after the clubs could not agree terms, and have turned their attention to Vidic.

The 27-year old, who missed Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Birmingham City this afternoon through injury, has apparently become’s Pep Guardiola’s main target once again, after he previously courting the defender last season.

Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson is unlikely to encourage a move for the former Spartak Moscow stopper, who he paid £7m for in 2006, as he has formed a strong partnership with Rio Ferdinand in the Red Devils back line.

Guardiola is looking to strengthen his defensive options, following the departure of Martin Caceres to Juventus on loan, and has already added Maxwell from Inter.

Vidic was shortlisted for the PFA Player of the Year award last season in England, and has won the Premier League title for three consecutive seasons with the Old Trafford club.

Source: Goal.com

 



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Arsene Wenger: We Won't Sell Cesc Fabregas To Barcelona
14 August 2009

The Arsenal boss has insisted that he won't be selling his skipper any time soon...

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has claimed that there “is no chance” that he will sell influential midfielder Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona.

Rumours have been rife throughout the summer that Fabregas may be tempted by a move back to Spain and the club where he started his career.

Italian giants Milan have also been strongly linked with a move for the Arsenal captain, who scored three Premier League goals last season.

The Gunners will be vying to win their first trophy in four years over the next nine months, and Wenger is adamant that he will not be allowing any more key players to leave.

"Do you really think we sell our players one day before the championship starts, players who are basic players of the team? There is no chance," the French coach told the Press Association.

"You cannot stop people from having a lot of creative imagination during their sleepless nights, but that does not mean we will do it."

Wenger himself has resisted the advances of the likes of Real Madrid in the past, and the Gunners boss has stated that he is a firm believer in the need to honour a contract.

"I believe that in life you are committed to clubs with contracts, and in no contract is the colour of your blood described," he added, referring to Fabregas and the speculation linking him with a move to Spain.

"I am more committed than ever to my club, not only this season, but since I have arrived here.

"We are at the beginning of a new season now, and it is important that everybody focuses - me, Fabregas, everybody else - just on being successful for the club we love, and the best way we can do that is to do well."

Arsenal begin their Premier League campaign at Goodison Park against Everton on Saturday.
 

Source: goal.com 



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Inter Signing Eto'o Does Not Rule Out Future Barcelona Return
14 August 2009

Inter striker Samuel Eto'o scored on his official debut for the club, a 2-1 loss to Lazio in the Supercoppa Italiana, but he claims he is settling in well in the city of Milan.

"I'm already happy with how things are going at Inter, even if we're not 100 percent," he told the Corriere dello Sport.

"Already the impression I had playing in the Supercup is that things are very positive. We dominated the match, creating many opportunities."

The 28-year-old then discussed his relationships with new coach Jose Mourinho and strike partner Diego Milito.

"The coach I like a lot, I intend to give my maximum as soon as possible in order to thank him," he continued.

"There was a great feeling and an excellent link-up with Milito. Our understanding is already very good and can only improve."

Eto'o came to the Nerazzurri as part of the deal that sent Zlatan Ibrahimovic to Barcelona - and he admits he would consider going back to the Blaugrana in the future.

"I was always well in Barcelona and one day I may return to play for that great club, but now I am at Inter, where I already feel at ease after just a short period of time," he concluded.

Source: goal.com
 



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Inter & Real Madrid Agree Fee For Wesley Sneijder – Report
14 August 2009

 The two clubs have reportedly agreed a fee, but the player is reluctant to leave the Spanish capital...

Inter may have made a breakthrough in their negotiations with Real Madrid over the transfer of Dutch midfielder Wesley Sneijder, however, it seems that the 25-year-old will take some persuasion to leave the Bernabeu.

The clubs have agreed a €19 million fee, according to 24oredisport.com, €8.5m of which will be paid this summer and the remaining €10.5m in June 2010. A contract has been drawn up for Sneijder, which will see him sign with the Beneamata until 2013 on a €3.7m-per-year deal.

The former Ajax man has been insistent, however, that he wants to fight for his place at Real Madrid. Despite the heavy competition for spots in Manuel Pellegrini's team, Sneijder declared after the Netherlands' friendly with England on Wednesday that he is not interested in joining the Italian champions.

Sneijder would be assured of a place in Jose Mourinho's side, as the Portuguese tactician has been desperately searching for a trequartista to play behind the new strike-pairing of Samuel Eto'o and Diego Milito. While Dejan Stankovic was effective in the role last year, the ‘Special One’ has made the attacking midfield position his top priority in the transfer market this summer.

Should the Dutchman reject Inter's contract offer, the Nerazzurri are likely to return to Bordeaux with an offer for former Milan player Yoann Gourcuff.
 

Source: goal.com



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Cesc Fabregas' Father Doubts Arsenal Exit
14 August 2009

The young Spaniard appears to be a long way from any move to Camp Nou...

There have been reports linking Cesc Fabregas with a transfer to Barcelona after the Catalan club publicly admitted their desire to have the 22-year-old back in their ranks.

But the player's father, Francesc Fabregas, has now guaranteed the Spain international is fully committed to the Gunners.

"Honestly, I think this signing by Barca will not be produced," he told COM Radio.

"Evidently, the football world is crazy and you never know, but today I think Cesc will stay at Arsenal. He is super committed to Arsenal and he is really eager to do things there.

"If the day comes [when Cesc moves to Barcelona] then it will come, but as a professional and out of respect for Arsenal, where he has always been very well treated, he cannot say anything about these rumours."

Nevertheless, Francesc admitted that his son has strong feelings for Barcelona, the club he left in 2003 for the North London outfit.

"Cesc is Catalan and a cule, and obviously he takes that with him all the time, but he gives it all for Arsenal, regardless of that feeling," he noted.

Source: goal.com
 



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Barcelona Add Cicinho And Grygera To Wanted List - Report
14 August 2009

Barcelona are weighing up up a move for former Real Madrid defender Cicinho to bolster their defensive options as the list of potential targets grows, according to a report.

The Catalan outfit have been linked with Arsenal's Emmanuel Eboue and Manchester City's Vincent Kompay in recent days and are now said to be also looking in Italy.

If a bid for Cicinho is not successful, the Juventus full-back Zdenek Grygera could find himself at the centre of the continuing speculation, Sport state.

After the tour of the United States, Barca decided that a new right-back to challenge Dani Alves was required, and if that player could also play in the middle then so much the better.

While Cicinho may not be able to double up as a central defender, the diminutive Brazilian is an attractive option given that he would not need any time to integrate.

The 29-year-old spent two seasons with Real Madrid before moving to Roma in 2007 and would not command a huge fee, which would suit Barca as they look to spend big on a midfielder.

Grygera is the same age as the Brazilian and has been at Juventus for two seasons, but as a regular in the Vecchia Signora squad, the Blaugrana may encounter greater resistance to their interest.

Source: goal.com
 



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Frank Rijkaard Eyeing Guti For Galatasaray - Report
14 August 2009

Guti could be offered regular football by the former Barcelona coach...

Frank Rijkaard has asked Galatasaray to try and sign Guti from Real Madrid as he continues his squad rebuilding plan with the Turkish giants, according to a report.

The Dutchman took over at the Ali Sami Yen Stadium earlier this summer and is constructing a new-look side in a bid to regain the Super League title next term.

While Elano has joined from Manchester City and Leo Franco from Atletico de Madrid, already part of Gala's foreign contingent were Milan Baros and Harry Kewell.

Now Rijkaard wants a playmaker and believes that Guti could be tempted to try his luck in Turkey with the promise of regular first-team football, El Mundo state.

With the influx of stars at Real Madrid, the 32-year-old looks set to once again play a back-up role at the Santiago Bernabeu and be chosen when suspensions or injuries allow.

Having spent his entire career with Madrid, Guti has rarely played regularly and that frustration could persuade him to decide to continue his career elsewhere.

Source: goal.com



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Torres signs contract extension
14 August 2009

Liverpool's Fernando Torres has signed a contract extension which could see the striker stay at Anfield until 2014.

The Spain star agreed the improved deal in May, but he has now put pen-to-paper ahead of the Reds' Premier League season opener at Tottenham on Sunday.

Torres was already under contract on Merseyside for six years after signing from Atletico Madrid in a record-breaking move in 2007.

The new deal includes an option for a further year's extension which could see the 25-year-old stay with the Reds until 2014.

Manager Rafa Benitez said: "Fernando is one of the best strikers in the game

and, at his age, can only get better.

"Every major side would want him in their team, but he has shown how much he wants to achieve success at Liverpool by committing his future to the club.

"He's a special talent, but still has the hunger to improve his game."

Torres struggled with injuries last season, but in his maiden campaign in England he became the first Liverpool player since Robbie Fowler in 1995/96 to score more than 20 league goals.

Source: Sky Sports



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Malaga Set To Make Mateja Kezman Move - Report
13 August 2009

Malaga are set to open talks about an audacious bid to sign Mateja Kezman from Paris Saint-Germain this summer as the striker looks set to leave the French outfit.

The Spanish side are hopeful that they can attract the 30-year-old after a successful return to la Primera Division last term almost saw them qualify for Europe.

Now Malaga are intent on building on that and want to add more quality to their squad and view Kezman as the goalscorer who could secure them a place in the top six, according to Le Parisien.

After spending just a year in the French capital, with six months of that on loan from Fenerbahce, the striker appears to be surplus to requirements and set to leave.

A return to Spanish football could be an attractive option and with Malaga proving their ambition with a change of coach and ten new players, Kezman could be persuaded.

After an underwhelming spell with Chelsea, the PSV hotshot spent a year with Atletico de Madrid, where he netted eight goals in 30 games, and then moved to Turkey in 2006.

Malaga have brought back promotion-winning coach Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz from Racing Santander and given him the support to bolster his squad with a host of new signings.

While many of the new faces are fringe players from big clubs such as Barca, Deportivo and Porto, Kezman would be seen as something of a coup and he would enjoy being the star once more.

Source: goal.com



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Macedonia 2 - 3 Spain
13 August 2009

Three goals in the space of five minutes ensured Spain emerged victorious in Skopje but Macedonia did not make it easy for the European champions.

The home side raced into an early lead after eight minutes when Lazio striker Goran Pandev beat the offside trap, latched onto Ilco Naumoski's clever through ball before skipping passed the advancing Reina to put Macedonia in front much to the delight of the home support.

Despite the Spaniards enjoying the lions share of possession Macedonia always looked threatening on the break and the lively Pandev put them two up just after the half hour mark when he eased passed Carlos Puyol before angling a low shot past Reina in the Spanish goal.

Vicente del Bosque made three changes at half time as the visitors looked to overturn a surprise two goal half time deficit with Albert Riera replacing David Villa while Xabi Alonso and Cazorla made way for Sergi Busquets and Cesc Fabregas.

Spain showed their class as the half developed with three quick fire strikes in the space of five minutes overturning the home side’s advantage, two of del Bosque’s substitutions having a major hand in the turn around.

First, Torres evaded the Macedonia rearguard to flick a neat header home from around twelve yards after Xavi floated a terrific cross from the left wing.

Moments later, substitute Fabregas crashed a shot against the upright and center half Gerard Pique guided the rebound to the net to put the visitors level.

The visitors took the lead straight from the resulting kick-off when Riera surged forward before hammering the ball home to give Spain the lead.

Spain settled into the task after this and dominated proceedings without really creating any major opportunities. The home side, despite a brave effort, lost the momentum after the break and rarely threatened but could have leveled five minutes from time when Traveski’s free kick rattled the bar.

A hard fought victory for Spain who need only to secure one point in their remaining qualifiers against Estonia and Belgium to book their place in South Africa next year. The home side will take heart from their display as they look to secure second place ahead of Scotland with group leaders Netherlands already qualified for the World Cup.

Source: Goal.com



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Real Mallorca fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
12 August 2009

Real Mallorca La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  Mallorca start the 2009/10 football campaign with a home game against Xerez on 30th August 2009.

Home games are in CAPITAL letters.

30th August 2009 - XEREZ             
13th September 2009 - Villarreal             
20th September 2009 - TENERIFE              
23rd September 2009 - Sevilla             
27th September 2009 - VALLADOLID             
4th October 2009 - Sporting Gijon             
18th October 2009 - GETAFE             
25th October 2009 - Atletico Madrid             
1st November 2009 - RACING SANTANDER              
8th November 2009 - Barcelona             
22nd November 2009 - ALMERIA             
29th November 2009 - Valencia             
6th December 2009 - REAL ZARAGOZA         
13th December 2009 - Osasuna             
20th December 2009 - Malaga             
3rd January 2010 - ATHLETIC BILBAO             
10th January 2010 - Real Madrid             
17th January 2010 - DEPORTIVO LA CORÑA             
24th January 2010 - Espanyol             
31st January 2010 - Xerez             
7th February 2010 - VILLARREAL             
14th February 2010 - Tenerife             
21st February 2010 - SEVILLA             
28th February 2010 - Valladolid             
7th March 2010 - SPORTING GIJON             
14th March 2010 - Getafe             
21st March 2010 - ATLETICO MADRID             
24th March 2010 - Racing Santander             
28th March 2010 - BARCELONA             
4th April 2010 - Almeria             
11th April 2010 - VALENCIA             
14th April 2010 - Real Zaragoza             
18th April 2010 - OSASUNA             
25th April 2010 - MALAGA             
2nd May 2010 - Athletic Bilbao             
5th May 2010 - REAL MADRID             
9th May 2010 - Deportivo La Coruna             
16th May 2010 - ESPANYOL

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before



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Atletico Madrid fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
11 August 2009

Atletico Madrid La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  Atletico Madrid start the 2009/10 football campaign with an away game against Malaga on 30th August 2009.

Home games are in CAPITAL letters.

30th August 2009 - Malaga          
13th September 2009 - RACING SANTANDER              
20th September 2009 - Barcelona          
23rd September 2009 - ALMERIA               
27th September 2009 - Valencia          
4th October 2009 - REAL ZARAGOZA              
18th October 2009 - Osasuna          
25th October 2009 - MALLORCA              
1st November 2009 - Athletic Bilbao              
8th November 2009 - REAL MADRID              
22nd November 2009 - Deportivo La Coruña          
29th November 2009 - ESPANYOL              
6th December 2009 - Xerez          
13th December 2009 - VILLARREAL              
20th December 2009 - Tenerife          
3rd January 2010 - SEVILLA              
10th January 2010 - Valladolid          
17th January 2010 - SPORTING GIJON          
24th January 2010 - Getafe              
31st January 2010 - MALAGA               
7th February 2010 - Racing Santander          
14th February 2010 - BARCELONA              
21st February 2010 - Almeria              
28th February 2010 - VALENCIA              
7th March 2010 - Real Zaragoza          
14th March 2010 - OSASUNA               
21st March 2010 - Mallorca          
24th March 2010    - ATHLETIC BILBAO               
28th March 2010 - Real Madrid          
4th April 2010 - DEPORTIVO LA CORÑA          
11th April 2010 - Espanyol          
14th April 2010 - XEREZ              
18th April 2010    - Villarreal          
25th April 2010    - TENERIFE              
2nd May 2010 - Sevilla          
5th May 2010 - VALLADOLID              
9th May 2010 - Sporting Gijon          
16th May 2010 - GETAFE    

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before   
 



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Valencia fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
10 August 2009

Valencia La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  Valencia CF start the 2009/10 football campaign with a home game against Sevilla on 30th August 2009.

Home games are in CAPITAL letters.

30th August 2009 - SEVILLA              
13th September 2009 - Valladolid             
20th September 2009 - SPORTING GIJON             
23rd September 2009 - Getafe             
27th September 2009 - ATLETICO MADRID              
4th October 2009 - Racing Santander             
18th October 2009 - BARCELONA              
25th October 2009 - Almeria             
1st November 2009 - Malaga             
8th November 2009 - REAL ZARAGOZA         
22nd November 2009 - Osasuna             
29th November 2009 - MALLORCA             
6th December 2009 - Athletic Bilbao             
13th December 2009 - REAL MADRID             
20th December 2009 - Deportivo La Coruna             
3rd January 2010 - ESPANYOL             
10th January 2010 - Xerez             
17th January 2010 - VILLARREAL              
24th January 2010 - Tenerife             
31st January 2010 - Sevilla             
7th February 2010 - VALLADOLID             
14th February 2010 - Sporting Gijon             
21st February 2010 - GETAFE              
28th February 2010 - Atletico Madrid             
7th March 2010 - RACING SANTANDER             
14th March 2010 - Barcelona             
21st March 2010 - ALMERIA              
24th March 2010 - MALAGA              
28th March 2010 - Real Zaragoza             
4th April 2010 - OSASUNA             
11th April 2010 - Mallorca             
14th April 2010 - ATHLETIC BILBAO              
18th April 2010 - Real Madrid             
25th April 2010 - DEPORTIVO LA CORUÑA              
2nd May 2010 - Espanyol             
5th May 2010 - XEREZ         
9th May 2010 - Villarreal             
16th May 2010 - TENERIFE   

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before



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Real Madrid fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
10 August 2009

Real Madrid La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  Real Madrid start the 2009/10 football campaign with a home game against Deportivo La Corña on 30th August 2009.

Home games are in CAPITAL letters.

30th August 2009 - DEPORTIVO LA CORUÑA
13th September 2009 - Espanyol
20th September 2009 - XEREZ
23rd September 2009 - Villarreal
27th September 2009 - TENERIFE
4th October 2009 - Sevilla
18th October 2009 - VALLADOLID
25th October 2009 - Gijon
1st November 2009 - GETAFE
8th November 2009 - Atletico Madrid
22nd November 2009 - SANTANDER
29th November 09 - Barcelona
6th December 2009 - ALMERIA
13th December 2009 - Valencia
20th December 2009 - ZARAGOZA
3rd January 2010 - Osasuna
10th January 2010 - MALLORCA
17th January 2010 - Athl.Bilbao
24th January 2010 - MALAGA
31th January 2010 - DEPORTIVO La Coruña
7th February 2010 - ESPANYOL
14th February 2010 - Xerez
21st February 2010 - VILLARREAL
28th February 2010 - Tenerife
7th March 2010 - SEVILLA
14th March 2010 - Valladolid
21st March 2010 - GIJON
24th March 2010 - Getafe
28th March 2010 - ATLETICO MADRID
4th April 2010 - Santander
11th April 2010 - BARCELONA
14th April 2010 - Almeria
18th April 2010 - VALENCIA
25th April 2010 - Zaragoza
2nd May 2010 - OSASUNA
5th May 2010 - Mallorca
9th May 2010 - ATHL. BILBAO
16th May 2010 - Malaga

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before



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Barcelona fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
10 August 2009

FC Barcelona La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  Barcelona start the 2009/10 football campaign with a home game against Gijon on 31st August 2009.

Home games are in CAPITAL letters.

31st August 2009 - GIJON
13th September 2009 - Getafe
20th September 2009 - ATLETICO MADRID
23th September 2009 - Santander
27th September 2009 - Malaga
4th October 2009 - ALMERIA
18th October 2009 - Valencia
25th October 2009 - ZARAGOZA
1st November 2009 - Osasuna
8th November 2009 - MALLORCA
22th November 2009 - Athl.Bilbao
29th November 2009 - REAL MADRID
6th December 2009 - Deportivo La Coruña
13th December 2009 - ESPANYOL
20th December 2009 - Xerez
3rd January 2010 - VILLARREAL
10th January 2010 - Tenerife
17th January 2010 - SEVILLA
24th January 2010 - Valladolid
31st January 2010 - Gijon
7th February 2010 - GETAFE
14th February 2010 - Atletico Madrid
21st February 2010 - SANTANDER
28th February 2010 - MALAGA
7th March 2010 - Almeria
14th March 2010 - VALENCIA
21st March 2010 - Zaragoza
24th March 2010 - OSASUNA
28th March 2010 - Mallorca
4th April 2010 - ATHL. BILBAO
11th April 2010 - Real Madrid
14th April 2010 - DEPORTIVO LA CORUÑA
18th April 2010 - Espanyol
25th Apr 2010 - XEREZ
2nd May 2010 - Villarreal
5th May 2010 - TENERIFE
9th May 2010 - Sevilla
16th May 2010 - VALLADOLID

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before
 



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Heart attack kills Espanyol star
09 August 2009

ESPANYOL captain Daniel Jarque has collapsed and died at the club's pre-season training camp in Italy.

Jarque, 26, collapsed at the team's hotel in Coverciano, Italy and was rushed to the local hospital after his heart stopped beating. Despite the efforts of club doctors and Italian paramedics, he was pronounced dead late on Saturday evening.

Espanyol had been due to play Bolgona today but the game has been cancelled.

A statement the Spanish club said: "Misfortune has befallen Espanyol and the family of Dani Jarque this evening.

"The doctor carried out CPR on the player and used a defibrillator, which showed that the arrest was non-responsive.

"After a few minutes, the first ambulance arrived from the Florence emergency services, who tried again with the defibrillator they carried.

"The medical services continued carrying out CPR, administering adrenaline and atropine for an hour.

"But the player's heart did not react, so finally that determined his death."

Jarque was at the hotel, talking on the phone to his fiancee who is eight months pregnant. But suddenly the midfielder stopped speaking.

She alerted a couple of his team-mates and they found him collapsed in his room.

Jarque had spent his entire career with spanyol having joined the club when he was 12.

He made his full debut in 2002 and was a part of the 2006 team that won the Copa del Rey in 2006.

Club president Daniel Sanchez Llibre said: "I find it very hard to believe these things happen.

"Jarque was a great person and a great professional. He was very happy because he was about to become a father.

"He loved Espanyol and was very excited with the new stadium and [his recent appointment to] the captaincy."

Source: The Sun



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Real Madrid reach agreement with Franck Ribery for 2010 - Report
08 August 2009

Fresh off completing the purchase of their final Galactico, Xabi Alonso, Real Madrid have already set in motion their project for 2010.  According to AS, Florentino Perez has already sealed a deal with Franck Ribery after reaching an agreement with his agent, Alain Migliaccio which will see the Frenchman sign a five-year contract starting in 2010.

The only obstacle that remains now is negotiations with Bayern Munich for the transfer fee and another soap opera is expected to ensue this time next summer.  However, the Madrid-based daily believes that it will be much easier to persuade the Bavarians to release Ribery next year as the player’s contract at the Allianz Arena will expire in 2011, thus giving Los Blancos a massive upperhand in negotiations.

It is reported that an offer of €25 million could be enough for the 26-year-old, as Bayern could be forced to part with their superstar midfielder for nothing if his switch to the Bernabeu is delayed until June 2011.  Ribery could even be allowed to leave for anywhere between €16m and €22m if the international player’s union, FIFPro, take their case to the European Commission should Bayern continue to refuse to let the player go.

But Perez is unwilling to cause a conflict and jeopardise his relationship with Die Roten as he prefers to sit down and settle the matter amicably with his German counterparts. It had been speculated that the Madrid chief was prepared to offer €55 million to Bayern to attain Ribery's services this summer.

Source: Goal.com



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Malaga fixtures 2009-2010 (La Liga)
07 August 2009

Malaga CF La Liga Fixtures for the 2009-2010 football season.  They start the 2009/10 football campaign with a home game against Atletico Madrid on 30th August. 

Home games are in capital letters.

30th August - ATLÉTICO MADRID
13th September - Deportivo
20th September - RACING SANTANDER
23rd September - Espanyol
27th September - BARCELONA
4th October - Xerez
18th October - ALMERÍA
25th October - Villarreal
1st November - VALENCIA
8th November - Tenerife
22nd November - REAL ZARAGOZA
29th November - Sevilla
6th December - OSASUNA
13th December - Valladolid
20th December - MALLORCA
3rd January - Sporting
10th January - ATHLETIC BILBAO
17th January - GETAFE
24th January - Real Madrid
30th January - Atlético Madrid
7th February - DEPORTIVO
14th February - Racing Santander
21st February - ESPANYOL
28th February - Barcelona
7th March - XEREZ
14th March - Almería
21st March - VILLARREAL
24th March - Valencia
28th March - TENERIFE
4th April - Real Zaragoza
11th April - SEVILLA
14th April - Osasuna
18th April - VALLADOLID
25th April - Mallorca
2nd May - SPORTING
5th May - Athletic Bilbao
9th May - Getafe
16th May - REAL MADRID

Please note that all fixtures subject to change up to a week before
 



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Arsene Wenger Accuses Real Madrid & Manchester City Of 'Financial Doping'
07 August 2009

The Arsenal gaffer has fired a cannon at Eastlands and the Bernabeu, branding their big-money buys as "financial doping"...Arsene Wenger has renewed his criticism of the money that has been lavishly spent by Manchester City and Real Madrid. The Citizens have splashed well over €100 million this summer, while Los Blancos have splurged over twice that amount during this transfer period.

"Manchester City look to me as if they have great squad quality-wise but sometimes, when you buy more than three players, you go into a technical gamble a little bit," the gaffer is quoted in The Telegraph as saying.

"Sometimes it clicks straight away, sometimes it can take a few months. If you do not find your balance straight away in the first games it is difficult."

The Frenchman hinted that money alone cannot buy a club all the laurels that it dreams of.

"Football is not as scientific and predictable as people have [it] sometimes," he remarked.

The former Monaco boss famously coined the term "financial doping" with respect to Chelsea during the time the Blues splashed big to bring the pillars of the game to Stamford Bridge. When quizzed as to whether he retained the same opinion with respect to the Citizens and Real, Wenger said, "Of course.

Read the rest of the article here



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Man United suggest David Villa signing would not be good value
06 August 2009

The Scot has been linked with a move for the Spanish international thanks to the parlous financial state of his current employers. Valencia had agreed deals to sell him to both Real Madrid and Barcelona for around £43 million earlier this summer but both fell through after last-minute wrangles.

Villa featured for the first half of United’s 2-0 win over Valencia at Old Trafford last night but Gill insisted it was not an opportunity for Ferguson to run the rule over a potential target.
 
He said: “We’re not in the market for paying a lot of money for players who are 27, 28 or 29. We don’t think it’s good value. That would be their last contract and at the end of that contract they won’t be worth a lot of money. We’re happy to pay significant sums of money for players up to the age of about 25.”

Ferguson is also believed to be keen on Villa’s team-mate David Silva – impressive in the second half at Old Trafford and, at 23, eligible for the sort of significant outlay it would take to lure him away from the Mestalla – but Gill echoed his manager’s sentiments that he will make no further additions to his squad after the arrivals of Luis Antonio Valencia, Gabriel Obertan, Michael Owen and Mame Biram Diouf, who will join his new team-mates from the Norwegian club Molde in January.

“I believe our spending is over for the summer. We’re pleased at the moment with the squad we have and a number of young boys are coming through – we have high hopes for Federico Macheda and Danny Welbeck. That’s where we’re at, although it’s worth reiterating that people should trust Sir Alex when it comes to what the squad needs. Just because we have a lot of money in the bank, it doesn’t mean we have to spend it.”

Speaking to United’s website, Gill also confirmed that he had requested the £80m fee paid by Real Madrid for Cristiano Ronaldo in an upfront, lump sum because of the global financial crisis.

“We didn’t want to sell, he wanted to leave, so we felt we had a strong negotiating position,” he said.

“Given what was going on in the financial world at the time I much preferred getting the money upfront as opposed to worrying about bank guarantees."

Source: The Telegraph



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Will Ferguson, Man U fans be ruing Ronaldo's exit?
06 August 2009

While Cristiano Ronaldo's exit from Manchester United ended the most protracted transfer saga in recent years, the winger's legacy could loom large over Old Trafford this season.

With most of the 80 million pounds ($135 million) Real Madrid paid for the world player of the year still not reinvested in new talent, another slow start to the season could raise questions over Alex Ferguson's reluctance to compete with big-spending Real Madrid and Manchester City in the transfer market.

The Glazer family who own the club have told Ferguson the cash was not required to service large debt repayments and could be used to strengthen a squad chasing a record fourth straight Premier League title and looking to avenge May's Champions League final loss to Barcelona.

The frugal Ferguson though has spent just a quarter of the Ronaldo windfall on wingers Antonio Valencia and Gabriel Obertan, with the most startling recruit costing nothing.

Out of contract at Newcastle and written off as injury-prone by England manager Fabio Capello, Old Trafford was the last place Michael Owen was expected to be starting the season.

Read the rest of the article here



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Tax rise shifts the balance of power from England to Spain
06 August 2009

When four English teams muscled into the last eight of the Champions League in March, there appeared to be no disputing that the Barclays Premier League was the world’s most powerful.  The best players had been flooding to these shores for years, citing the packed stadia and the rich history as their reasons, while happily compiling small fortunes.  Continental craft had been added to speed and aggression and it was proving an  irresistible thrill for anyone with football in their veins...

...The poor financial climate, the weakness of the pound against the euro and imminent tax changes can all take their share of  the blame for making the Premier League a little less attractive. In Spain, footballers will continue to pay a 24 per cent temporary non-resident’s tax as  opposed to the 43 per cent top level for residents after their Congress voted against abolishing the special rate this summer. From next April, players in England
will pay 50 per cent top rate.

Read the full article here



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Seattle Sounders 0-4 Barcelona: Messi Steals The Show
06 August 2009

SEATTLE — Lionel Messi scored the opening two goals as Barcelona beat the Seattle Sounders 4-0 in a preseason friendly on Wednesday.  In a dominant performance by the reigning European champions, Barcelona required its top players for only half the game to beat the Major League Soccer club and extend their winning preseason form.

Messi beat Seattle keeper Kasey Keller in the 21st minute with a left-footed punch from outside the penalty box that the former Tottenham stopper only got a fingertip on. Twenty minutes later, Messi gathered Xavi's perfectly judged cross about 8 yards out and in one move split Keller's legs with his left foot shot.

Messi's preseason form indicates he will pick up right where he left off at the end of a 2008/09 season when he scored 38 goals as Barcelona won the unprecedented treble of Champions League, Spanish Liga and Spain's Copa del Rey.

Read the rest of the article here



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Manchester United 2-0 Valencia Michael Owen flops on Old Trafford debut
06 August 2009

Sir Alex Ferguson admitted Michael Owen should have scored four goals last night - as the striker fluffed his chance in front of the England boss.  Owen, who has not played for England since March 2008, missed a string of openings on his home debut for Manchester United.  It was a frustrating Old Trafford bow for Owen, who was put out of his misery just after the hour as one of a glut of substitutions.

Fergie said: "Michael should have scored four. His movement was marvellous and it would have been nice for him to have scored. He deserved one."  Despite Fergie's kind words, sentiment gave way to reality as a once prolific striker showed the extent of his decline.  Quite what Fabio Capello made of the succession of missed chances, only the England boss knows, but Owen is unlikely to feature in next week's friendly against Holland.

Read full article here



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Football: Real Madrid say spending over
05 August 2009

Xabi Alonso completed his medical at Real Madrid on Wednesday as club director general Jorge Valdano said their close season transfer spending spree was over. Liverpool and Real have agreed a fee believed to be in the region of $43 million for the Spanish international, who has also agreed personal terms with the Madrid giants.

It will take Real's spending to an estimated €254 million ($365 million) and Valdano told Radio Cadena Sur that their work was done ahead of the new Spanish Primera Liga season.

'"The main aim was to complete the squad and there will now be no more signings," Valdano said.

Real's incredible transfer market dealings began soon after Florentino Perez was re-elected to the club presidency.  Brazilian star Kaka arrived from Milan followed quickly by the the prize signing of Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United for a world-record fee of €94 million euros ($135 million).

Karim Benzema from Lyon was another high profile acquisition, while Real's other newcomers are Valencia center back Raul Albiol, Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa, Almeria striker Alvaro Negredo and Getafe midfielder Esteban Granero.  Defender Ezequiel Garay is also set to take his place in the squad after being loaned back to Racing Santander last season.

Stylish midfielder Alonso is the final piece in the Real jigsaw with attempts to sign Bayern winger Frank Ribery apparently ended.  Alonso joined Liverpool from Real Sociedad in August 2004 for $17.5 million and scored 19 goals in 210 games, including a goal in Liverpool's memorable Champions League final victory over AC Milan in 2005.

Liverpool will now be looking for an immediate replacement, with Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani and Juventus star Christian Poulsen both high on their list of targets. Valdano confirmed in his radio interview on Wednesday that they would continue to offload unwanted members of the squad. Dutch international trio Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, who has been linked with Tottenham Hotspur, Rafael van der Vaart and Wesley Sneijder are all thought to be for sale to offset some of the massive spending.

The Spanish Primera Liga season starts on August 29 with Real bidding to wrest the title back from Barcelona, who completed a memorable treble last term

Source: cnn.com



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Liverpool will miss Real Madrid recruit Xabi Alonso – Jan Molby
05 August 2009

Former Liverpool midfielder Jan Molby, a two-time title winner with the Reds during the 1980s, believes that the decision to sell Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid will hurt Rafael Benitez's side.  Alonso was a key cog in the Merseyside outfit's midfield, being granted the ball following central midfield partner Javier Mascherano's break-up play and initiating his own forward motions from a withdrawn position. His playmaking credentials allowed players such as Steven Gerrard, Yossi Benayoun and Fernando Torres to fully flourish.

Alonso is the alleged last piece of Real Madrid's second Galactico regime, and the deal is expected to see 'Pool pocket around €35 million (£30m).

On the transfer, Molby told the BBC, “He’s doing what he thinks is right for his career. When he retires he’ll look back and see Liverpool and Real Madrid on his CV, and that’s a big thing.

“If you look at what’s happening at Real right now, you can sense that there could be something big in terms of what they’re capable of winning over the next few years, and Alonso feels he wants to be part of that.

“In the end he was desperate to go and join them, and I fully understand his decision.

“But Liverpool will miss him a lot. Everyone talks about Gerrard and Torres, but I think just behind them, Alonso was a crucial part of the directional play of the team.”

Source: Goal.com



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Real Madrid to sell four or five by end of August - Report
05 August 2009

Xabi Alonso's arrival at Real Madrid takes their first team squad to 29, so the club must let four players go before the end of August and have chosen five candidates, according to a report. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, Arjen Robben, Rafael van der Vaart, Wesley Sneijder and Alvaro Negredo are all on Los Merengues' list as they cannot be promised regular first team football next term.

With only one set to be kept, coach Manuel Pellegrini will hold talks with the board about which players he believes should go and which one of the quintet he most wants. Sneijder has the best chance of staying after being praised by the Chilean trainer in pre-season following some encouraging performances in the Madrid side.  Huntelaar has already been told that he is leaving permanently, while Negredo is now aware that he will either be loaned or sold with a buy-back clause included.

Also Van der Vaart has made it clear that he cannot work with Pellegrini and wants out, leaving Robben to try and justify his place at the club, AS state.  Publicly rejecting Tottenham Hotspur this week, the former Chelsea star is evidently confident of staying, but that appears unlikely as the board are not keen on him.  Robben's injury record has not impressed them, and with the arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and the return of Esteban Granero, the club have more reliable players to fill his place.  Royston Drenthe and Ruud van Nistelrooy have been previously mentioned as possible players to go, but the former has impressed in pre-season and the striker is wanted to provide competition up front.

Source: Goal.com



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Michael Carrick expects Valencia tie will be an 'Entertaining' friendly
05 August 2009

Manchester United's pre-season concludes with a friendly against Valencia this evening ahead of Wembley's Community Shield clash with Chelsea at the weekend, and Michael Carrick believes the Los Che fixture could be a good warm-up for the Blues clash, as this evening's game will have an "entertaining" edge.  Carrick explained to the United Review, "It will allow us to gauge where we’re at and look at the things that need tweaking or working on, and there’s no better place to do that than Old Trafford.

"Valencia are a top side and I’m sure it’ll be an entertaining match."

United enjoyed a strong pre-season in Asia where they fought off a Malaysian XI (twice), as well as FC Seoul. Sir Alex Ferguson also oversaw an emphatic victory when his side beat Hangzhou Greentown by an 8-2 scoreline.  United recently progressed to the final of the Audi Cup but came unstuck against Bayern Munich in an epic penalty shoot-out. Free transfer Michael Owen is the club's top scorer in pre season having bagged four goals in five games. Ryan Giggs has three, after he scored a hat-trick in the Hangzhou tie.

Source: Goal.com



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Robben ready for Real fight
05 August 2009

Arjen Robben has vowed to fight for his place at Real Madrid and will only leave to join a club playing in the UEFA Champions League. Reports have suggested that Real could look to offload the Dutch winger following the raft of big-name arrivals at the Santiago Bernabeu over the summer.
Robben, along with compatriots Royston Drenthe, Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart and Ruud van Nistelrooy, is facing a battle to secure regular first-team football under new coach Manuel Pellegrini.  The former Chelsea wide man has been linked with a return to the Premier League, with Tottenham Hotspur rumoured to be showing an interest.  However, Robben has again ruled out a move to White Hart Lane and remains determined to establish himself in Pellegrini's plans this season.
"With all the respect in the world, I have decided not to join Tottenham," said Robben in The Sun.
"For the moment I want to fight for my place at Real Madrid and want to focus all my attentions on my preparations.
"I hope to achieve a lot with Real Madrid this season. The only thing I would consider is a move to another club in the Champions League.

Source: Skysports



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Barcelona’s €10m offer to Messi eclipsed by Manchester City’s €12m proposal - Report
05 August 2009

The Blaugrana have been forced to dig deep into their pockets to keep their promise of making ‘Little Lionel’ the best paid player at the Camp Nou.  Barcelona have wasted little time in ensuring Lionel Messi remains their number one star and their highest paid player following the big-money arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic.  The Catalan juggernauts have already begun negotiations to improve Messi’s current deal of €8 million net per year and La Vanguardia have reported that they will offer the Argentine a figure close to €10 million net.

But the amount still fails to match what Manchester City were willing to offer ‘El Mesias’, believed to be €12 million net.  Barca have a distinct disadvantage with Messi as the Argentine is considered a Spanish resident for tax purposes and he will be hit with a 40% tax rate. As such, his employers’ offer of €16 million gross per year will be cut down to just €10 million net, only €5m more than Ibrahimovic’s annual wages of €9.5m (€12.5m gross).  The Swede, as well as Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo, are only taxed 24% as they are foreigners, giving the clubs more room to negotiate for a bigger contract. Messi did, however, earn €10.4m from the Blaugrana last season after pocketing the full €2.4m in bonuses for winning the treble.

Source: Goal.com



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Salgado to be given Real Madrid farewell in Bernabeu trophy clash against Milan
05 August 2009

On Tuesday night, Real Madrid announced that they had reached an official agreement with Michel Salgado to cancel the player’s contract after ten years at the club.  Questions were quickly raised as to whether or not the Galician would be offered a tribute match by his former employers, and according to AS, the 33-year-old will indeed see action one more time at Chamartin.  It is believed that the veteran defender will be given an appropriate farewell in the Santiago Bernabeu Trophy match against AC Milan on August 25. However, it is still unclear if he will simply step out onto the turf for an ovation from the fans, or if he will don the famous white shirt one last time and play a few minutes of the game.

Meanwhile, his agent, Gines Carvajal, is in negotiations with the ‘White House’ to discuss a compensation fee for cancelling the remaining one year Salgado had left with the Merengues. A figure of around €4 million will reportedly be paid to the player.  Salgado had already stopped training with the rest of the group by yesterday, but he will return to the Valdebebas grounds later today to say his goodbyes. He will then address the media in a press conference with Jorge Valdano at around 13:00 CET.

Source: Goal.com



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OFFICIAL: Liverpool agree €34m deal to take Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid
05 August 2009

Liverpool have this afternoon confirmed that they have reached agreement with Real Madrid over a deal to take Xabi Alonso from Anfield to the Spanish giants.  The player will now move to Los Merengues as soon as he successfully completes a medical, for which he will, according to Goal.com sources, be in Madrid tomorrow.

A statement on the Reds' official website reads:

"Liverpool Football Club this evening confirmed they had reached agreement for the sale of Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid, subject only to a medical.

"The terms of the deal will remain confidential and undisclosed."

However, an anonymous source revealed to Goal.com's Mohammed Bhana that the fee agreed between the Merseysiders and the Spanish giants is €34 million. We also understand that Liverpool held out for the full fee and would not accept anything less.  Reds manager Rafa Benitez had been extremely reluctant to part with the player, whose possible exit has been talked about almost since the last ball was kicked at the end of last season.

However, it looks now that the Basque playmaker, such an integral part of the Liverpool side, is on his way out of Anfield, and discussion will now surely turn as to how Benitez can replace him in time for the resumption of Premier League hostilities on August 15.  Sky Sports News reports in England today have claimed that the Reds are in talks with Juventus regarding Christian Poulsen, though no official confirmation has yet emerged, as reports in Italy, also from Sky, maintain that Alberto Aquilani of Roma remains favourite to swap Serie A for the Premier League.

Source: Goal.com



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Barcelona target Man United centre-back Jonny Evans
04 August 2009

Barcelona are ready to test Sir Alex Ferguson's resolve with a €14 million (£12m) bid for Manchester United star Jonny Evans, according to reports.  The Daily Mail is suggesting that the Spanish club may be weighing up a move for the 21-year-old centre-back as they look to improve their options in defence.

Juventus are currently in advanced talks with Pep Guardiola's team regarding the loan signing of Uruguayan defender Martin Caceres, which suggests that the Catalans may be in the market for a replacement.  Reports earlier in the summer had claimed that Barca were chasing Evans' Manchester United team-mate Nemanja Vidic, but those rumours were put to bed when the Serbian's agent insisted his client is happy at Old Trafford.

Evans, who spent the entire 2006-07 season on-loan at Sunderland, enjoyed an extended run of games in the Red Devils' first-team last season and he looks set to be an integral part of the United squad again this campaign.  Gerard Pique was the last United defender to swap Manchester for Barcelona, winning the Primera Division title and Champions League with the club since his move in 2008.  If reports are to be believed, the Nou Camp outfit will now turn their attentions to Northern Ireland international Evans as they seek to defend their Champions League, La Liga and Copa del Rey crowns.

Source: Goal.com



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Cristiano Ronaldo to occupy 1,000 square metre Madrid home
04 August 2009

 Aug. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Cristiano Ronaldo, world soccer’s Player of the Year, will move into a 1,000 square meter (10,764 square feet) home in Madrid after joining Real Madrid for a world-record fee.  The 24 year-old winger has signed a deal to occupy the property in Pozuelo de Alarcon, 15 kilometers west of central Madrid, according to an official from Gilmar, the property broker that managed the deal. She declined to be identified by name or comment on whether Ronaldo will buy or rent the property and how much he will pay.

The property has 5,000 square meters of grounds and is part of an estate that has a “great deal” of security, she said. Phone calls made to the office in Porto of Jorge Mendes, Ronaldo’s agent, went unanswered.  Real Madrid agreed to sign Portugal’s Ronaldo from Manchester United for 80 million pounds ($135 million) in June.

Source: Bloomberg.com



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Milan Ready to offer Arsenal €35m for Cesc Fabregas - Report
04 August 2009

Milan are planning to sign Arsenal star Cesc Fabregas, with Rossoneri club president Silvio Berlusconi having given the move the go-ahead.  According to Tuttosport, vice president Adriano Galliani has a pre-agreement in place with Berlusconi over the Spanish international, and Gunners coach Arsene Wenger has promised he will sell Fabregas to the Italian giants.

The report suggests Milan will offer Arsenal around €35 million for the midfielder. Fabregas will be tempted with a five-year deal worth €4m-per-season. Just weeks ago Berlusconi claimed he wanted players who were under 23-years-old, and Fabregas fits the bill.  A meeting that was scheduled for 12:00 CET today between Berlusconi, Galliani and Leonardo to discuss Fabregas has been cancelled. It has been rearranged for Wednesday.

During the meeting, which has been labelled as a 'G3 summit', the trio will discuss plans for Fabregas, Andrea Pirlo's future and Luis Fabiano's possible arrival.

Source: Goal.com
 



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Real Madrid terminate Michel Salgado contract - Report
04 August 2009

Michel Salgado, 33, has been on the books of Real Madrid since 1999, when he joined from Celta Vigo, and has made over 250 appearances for the Spanish giants. But, according to a report in Marca, Madrid feel that Salgado has completed a cycle at the Santiago Bernabeu, which, together with the fact that the squad is overpopulated, has led to his release.
The Spanish paper reports that Salgado received a call from the club's sporting director, Miguel Pardeza, on Monday, in which he was told not to report for training on Tuesday.

It is believed that Salgado wants to continue playing for three more years, with Real Zaragoza one of the many clubs interested in his services.  Meanwhile, Marca suggests that Madrid will pay Salgado €3 million in compensation for the remaining year the right-back had on his contract with the Merengues.  Real Madrid have yet to comment on this matter. Salgado has called a press conference for 12.00 (CET time) in the Spanish capital.

Source: Goal.com



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Real Madrid set to match Liverpool's asking price for Alonso
04 August 2009

Xabi Alonso has been subject to arguably the longest-running transfer saga of this summer, and after a long period of chasing the Liverpool midfielder, Real Madrid are reportedly set to match the poaching price placed on the player's head. Anfield officials met with the Galacticos executive director-general Jose Angel Sanchez before the Reds' pre-season game against Espanyol, in order to put to rest the speculation surrounding the future of the pass-master.

The Liverpool Daily Post claims that the 'White House' is willing to match the €35 million asking price, and add a further €2.5m based on the performances put out by the Spaniard during the first two years of his time at the Bernabeu.  Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow spoke about the meeting between the officials of the two powerhouses, and outlined the story so far.

"This [meeting] has only served to put our positions on the table," said Purslow.

“We need to continue talking.

“Rafa [Benitez] arranged this knowing what was coming. It was important that we know. So far, most of what is being said is a lie. We were negotiating through the press. It makes no sense."

Purslow hinted that a deal would reach fruition, but did not specify a timeframe.

"Now, I have been impressed by Madrid and Jose Angel. They [Benitez and Jose Angel] are friends and will remain so,” he concluded.

Source: Goal.com



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Carragher wants Alonso & Mascherano to commit to Liverpool
03 August 2009

Liverpool stalwart Jamie Carragher, a defender who has shown loyalty to the Reds throughout his playing career, believes that after a strong season last campaign, in which the Anfield outfit fought with rivals Manchester United for the Premier League crown, it is especially imperative that the current squad remain together.  The 31-year-old was speaking about the speculation surrounding the respective futures of Real Madrid target Xabi Alonso and wantaway Argentinean leader Javier Mascherano.

"When you have gone as close as we did last season you don't want to lose anyone from your squad," he told The People. "All I would say is that I don't want any of our influential players to leave.

"I'm not naming names, but there have been stories that certain players could leave the club and it's important that those things are settled sooner rather than later.

"The last thing we want is to be going into the new season not knowing whether someone is going to leave before the transfer window closes.

"So the quicker these things are sorted the better, because then we can concentrate on the business of winning football matches."

Source: Goal.com



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Man United and Liverpool to fight over David Villa - Report
03 August 2009

Manchester United and Liverpool are to test the resolve of Valencia and launch a bid for their star player David Villa, according to a report in The Independent.

Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez is keen to partner Villa with Spanish international team-mate Fernando Torres, and is planning to invest the money gained by selling Xabi Alonso to Real Madrid by bringing the forward to Anfield.  Sir Alex Ferguson, for his part, had claimed his summer spending was over but has apparently reconsidered, believing his squad may be exposed should Michael Owen pick up an injury this season.

The Red Devils are planning to discuss a potential deal with Valencia before the two sides meet for a friendly on Wednesday. It is believed a bid of £25 million could tempt Los Che to sell their prime asset.  It is reported that Ferguson is also interested in acquiring creative midfielder David Silva from Valencia. If Liverpool miss out on Villa, they will then switch their attentions to firming up their interest in Roma's Alberto Aquilani.

Source:  Goal.com



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Real Madrid Agree Alonso Deal - Report
03 August 2009

After weeks of wrangling a deal has been reached...Real Madrid have had an offer of €32 million accepted by Liverpool for Xabi Alonso and a pre-accord has been sealed that will see the player move back to Spain this week, according to a report.

A meeting between the two clubs in Barcelona at the weekend saw a thaw in the frosty stand-off, and with Los Merengues showing some goodwill, an agreement was reached, Sport state. Liverpool were holding out for £30 million, while Madrid were keen to pay only €30million, but the rise of €2m has seen the Reds accept the offer.

The Spanish giants' director general, Jose Angel Sanchez, met with Liverpool's financial director, Christian Purslow, in a hotel within walking distance of Camp Nou.Talks were friendly, but firm, Sport believe, with Madrid accepting that they would have to move their bid up if they were to persuade Liverpool to let the player go.

Alonso has made it clear that he wants to make the switch and become part of Florentino Perez's new look Galacticos, and for such a sum Rafa Benitez is willing to do business. A deal with the player himself was reached weeks ago and he has had to remain patient while the two clubs postured and searched for a way forward, but now that has happened he can prepare for the transfer. Before and after Liverpool's friendly against Espanyol in Barcelona on Sunday, Alonso, whose father Periko played for the Blaugrana, remained tight-lipped about joining Real Madrid.

Source: Goal.com



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Barcelona Nou Camp stadium redevelopment
03 August 2009

 

I have just been reading that Barcelona’s Nou Camp stadium is to be redeveloped. It’s the first I have heard about this, even though the news was announced nearly 2 years ago.
 
The renowned British Architect Norman Foster has been chosen as the architect for the extensive redevelopment and remodelling.  The Nou Camp stadium is already one of the largest in Europe but will be extended to a capacity of over 106,000 fans.  The stadium will have a new roof added and the exterior and roof will be enclosed by an outer layer of multi coloured mosaic translucent tiles. At night, the stadium will glow.
 
Personally, it all looks a bit over the top for me. I have been to the Nou Camp, and it is still a stunning stadium. I’m not sure such a radical overhaul is needed. The Barca fans seem to like it, so who am I to argue?
 
Here are some artists impressions of the redeveloped stadium, from the Fosters & Partners website.
 

Nou Camp Redevelopment

 

Nou Camp Redevelopment

Nou Camp Norman Foster

Nou Camp Norman Foster

 

 

 

 



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Xabi Alonso happy Liverpool & Real Madrid are in serious discussions
03 August 2009

Xabi Alonso has responded to reports that Real Madrid have sent their executive director, Jose Angel Sanchez to Barcelona to accelerate negotiations with Liverpool for his signature. The Merseysiders were in Catalunya on Sunday to participate in Espanyol’s new stadium inauguration match, a clash where Alonso was featured as a late substitute. 
 
Even though AS reported that the 27-year-old midfielder had refused to speak to anyone upon his arrival in Barcelona, after the friendly encounter, he was contacted by the Madrid-based daily to be informed of the events that are unfolding at the negotiation table.
 
And his response was: “Oh really? Well it’s good to know that Madrid and Liverpool are talking seriously now.
 
“I decided long ago to stay away from everything that is happening. My position in the matter has been very clear and everyone knows it.
 
“I am a professional and I am ready to accept whatever agreement is reached. I just hope that it is resolved soon, for better or for worse.”
 
It is also reported that Xabi did not follow the rest of the squad back to Liverpool after the friendly and decided to spend the day in Spain with his family.
 
Source: Goal.com



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Cristiano Ronaldo's legs insured for €100m
02 August 2009

The Spanish giants have safeguarded their prized asset by taking out insurance on his famous pins...
 
Real Madrid have protected themselves in the event of Cristiano Ronaldo suffering a serious injury by insuring the Portuguese superstars’ legs for the grandiose sum of €100m. Sunday newspaper The World reports that the former Manchester United man, who became a record signing following his €94m switch to the Bernabeu, has been given unique treatment in keeping with his importance to the side, and that Los Blancos acted quickly to ensure that they would be compensated in the event of Ronaldo being unable to play.
The 24-year old recently picked up a knock and the injury to his knee was quickly assessed by club doctors, who gave the player the all-clear. Ronaldo’s purchase came as part of an unprecedented summer of spending by the Spanish club, which has also included the acquisitions of Kaka, Karim Benzema and Raul Albiol. However, it has been the arrival of Ronaldo that has been most celebrated by the clubs’ followers, and Los Merengues have now acted to ensure their investment is suitably protected. Lets just hope that Kaka's legs don't feel overlooked.
 
Source: Goal.com



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David Beckham hopes trademark Goal wins over LA Galaxy fans
02 August 2009

Los Angeles Galaxy midfielder David Beckham hopes that his goal against Barcelona in last night's friendly match has won over sections of the crowd delivering him a hostile reception.

The Galaxy lost the game 2-1 thanks to goals from Pedro and Jeffren, but Beckham had pulled his side level with a trademark 30-yard free kick. The strike was greeted with rapturous applause by home fans, and while the England international would welcome a change in attitude towards him, he is not holding his breath.

"Who knows - if I did, then great," Beckham told reporters after the game.

"If I didn't it's not going to bother me. I'll carry on enjoying myself."

Beckham was pleased with the Galaxy's performance in the game against the Champions League winners, for whom he was full of praise. He added, "I think for 65 minutes we played some really good soccer.

"[Barcelona are] European champions and I'm sure they'll be world champions. They're incredible."

Source: Goal.com



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Everton To Move For Valencia Defender Miguel - Report
02 August 2009

Everton manager David Moyes could be preparing to attempt to take Valencia defender Miguel to Goodison Park this summer.

Moyes has a right-back at the club already in Tony Hibbert, who has been a regular fixture in the first-team for several seasons now. But many see Hibbert as a weak link in the team's back four. And the Toffees have also declined to offer a new contract to Danish full-back Lars Jacobsen, who has now joined Blackburn Rovers on a free transfer. The News Of The World is now reporting that Moyes is ready to make a bid of around €6 million (£5m) for the Portugal international, who has made 50 appearances for his country.

The 29-year-old was ready to leave the Mestalla after five seasons earlier this summer, as Los Che continue to struggle financially. However, Miguel recently declared himself happy to stay with the club, although did not rule out a possible departure in the future, if it suited both him and his current employers. Tottenham Hotspur had also been linked with the stopper recently, but with Kyle Naughton arriving at White Hart Lane, Everton may have a free run at chasing the player's signature.

Source: Goal.com



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Man United to make Silva move
02 August 2009

Manchester United are reportedly set to follow up their interest in Valencia winger David Silva this week.

The Spanish side are visiting Old Trafford on Wednesday night for a friendly, and club officials are set to meet to discuss Silva. United still have plenty of transfer funds left to spend from the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo, and while Sir Alex Ferguson claims that he is done spending this summer, it is believed that he would still like one more signing.  Silva has been a target for United and for Liverpool in recent years, as has Valencia striker David Villa, but Ferguson believes he can get his man. The 23-year-old can operate just behind a striker or out on the left-flank, filling two trouble positions for United.

Source: 4thegame.com



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Arsenal 2-1 Atletico Madrid
02 August 2009

Arsenal 2-1 Atletico Madrid: Andrey Arshavin Show Inspires Late Gunners Win
The diminutive Russian, together with Jack Wilshere, were in good form for Arsenal as they overcame Atleti.

Jose Antonio Reyes' return to north London was made to be wretched, as his initial touches on the ball were thwarted by eager teenager Aaron Ramsey, who broke his play while the home side made vocal their displeasure to see the Spaniard, a former Gunner, on N5 turf. The 25-year-old, though, marked his intent to silence his detractors as he fired a cross into the path of Sergio Aguero, who struck the post in the sixth minute. Moments later, Czech Republic international Tomas Rosicky, who has spent the last 18 months recovering from a complex hamstring twinge, could have gotten the Gunners off to a strong start with a long-range curling effort that rippled the net but was ruled offside.

The attacking-midfielder's initiative from outside the box would no doubt give home supporters much delight, and would counter the past criticisms of Arsenal 'walking the ball into the net'. Reyes was again focal to Atletico's attack, and if he was not aiming to set up former Liverpool fringe player Florent Sinama-Pongolle, then he was instead looking to zip a shot goal-ward. Both events occured within a minute of the other as Atleti looked to capitalise on their possession.

The two teams returned to the dressing-room without a goal for their efforts, however, the second half - and the introduction of burgeoning English teen Jack Wilshere - sparked a new lease of life into the game as the prodigy, likened to Liam Brady, linked well with creative Dutchman Robin van Persie, Bacary Sagna, and then, two minutes later, with Nicklas Bendtner, who fired disappointingly high of the target.

Just after the hour mark and Wilshere is once again central to Arsenal's build-up play as he picks up highly-rated Welsh midfielder Aaron Ramsey, but the fully-capped international failed to find a flaw in Sergio Asenjo's guarding of Los Colchoneros' goal.

The game's goals all arrived toward's the fixture's conclusion, as Andrey Arshavin broke the deadlock in the 86th minute when the Russian used a well weighted Cesc Fabregas cross to his advantage. Unfortunately for Arsenal and for the former Zenit St Petersburg ace, Atleti found an instant retort to the Gunners' converted effort, as Pacheco fooled the home team's rearguard and slotted the ball home in the bottom corner.

Not to be beaten or outdone, Arshavin made a mockery of the Spanish camp's defence and finished from a seemingly impossibly acute angle, like he has done for Arsenal, and for Zenit, in the past.  Despite the loss, Atletico were still awarded a point for their goal, while Arsenal collected five (three for the win and two for Arshavin's deuce) and stormed to the top of the table.
 

Source: Goal.com
 



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Fernando Torres’ Shirt becomes Liverpool best seller
02 August 2009

Fernando Torres’ No. 9 shirt has overtaken Steven Gerrard’s as the most popular selling shirt amongst Liverpool fans.

According to Anfield commercial director Ian Ayre, the Spaniard has become absolutely vital to the club’s commercial success.

“All the players are important but it's evident certain ones are crucial,” he told the News of the World.

“Fernando is a global icon and a great footballer. They go hand in hand. From a commercial standpoint, he's a huge attraction.”

Ayre also went on to reveal that Torres’ shirt now outsold the Liverpool captain’s and that the Spaniard’s No. 9 was the club’s biggest seller.

“Torres is the highest-selling shirt here. I'm not sure when he actually overtook Steven Gerrard, and there's not a huge difference, but he is our biggest seller,” he explained.

“Being a global brand, we have a big opportunity to push on - but we know it's not all about shirts.”

The striker has proved a huge success on Merseyside since signing from Atletico Madrid in 2007. In his first season with the club he netted an astonishing 24 league goals and followed this up with another 14 last time out, despite missing large chunks of the season through injury.

Source: Goal.com



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Valencia beat Cardiff in pre season friendly
02 August 2009

Valencia Maintain Unbeaten Run With Cardiff Win.  Los Che are having an an excellent pre-season and their good form continued against Cardiff...

Valencia are yet to be defeated in pre-season, after they ran out 2-0 victors over Cardiff. In the last match of their tour of Holland, Los Che, still without their international players, got off to the perfect start when Nikola Zigic headed them in front on seven minutes, meeting a cross from Tiago Carleto.  Valencia continued to dominate, with Ever Banega running the show in midfield, but it was a largely uninspiring first half.

At half-time, Unai Emery introduced Joaquin, Ruben Baraja and Michel into the game, with the latter proving a constant menace.  Cardiff's best chance came when Hedwiges Maduro brought Ricardo Scimeca down in the box, but Miguel Moya saved McCormack's penalty. Then, with time running out, Joaquin sealed the deal with the second on 84 minutes, after great build-up work. Valencia now return to Spain before their next assignment, a match against Manchester United at Old Trafford on Wednesday.

Source: Goal.com



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Barcelona beat LA Galaxy 2-1 in friendly
02 August 2009

Barcelona Claim 2-1 Friendly Win Over LA Galaxy.  The Galaxy made a game of it, but the Spanish club claimed the win...

The crowd of nearly 94,000 on hand at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena was the largest to watch a soccer game in the United States since the 1994 World Cup. They were treated to an entertaining match between Barcelona and the Los Angeles Galaxy, one that may have seen as the redemption of David Beckham, at least as far as Galaxy fans were concerned. Despite their pre-season form, Barcelona still showed their quality, eventually claiming the 2-1 win.

Source: Goal.com



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Henrik Larsson to retire - report
01 August 2009

The veteran striker is set to hang up his boots after another serious injury...
Henrik Larsson broke a knee-cap during his last match for Helsingborg and, although medical exams indicate that he would be out of action for just eight weeks, the 37-year-old has reportedly decided to call time on his career.
"Before the injury he was 95 per cent sure he would quit football at the end of Autumn, when the league ends. Now, he says it's enough," a source close to the player has told Sportbladet.
Larsson, who won the Champions League with Barcelona in 2006, had been linked with retirement in recent days, after his coach, Bosse Nilsson, said that he planned to quit football at the end of the season.
"He has been thinking about this matter and he told me this was going to be his last year," Nilsson said.
"Henke has had serious injuries throughout his career, but the groin problems are not that easy to heal and the recovery time is longer."

Source:  Goal.com



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Guardiola relaxed over doping case
01 August 2009

Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola insists he is "not worried" by the reopening of a doping case against him.  Guardiola was fined and suspended for four months in 2001 during his first of two spells at Italian club Brescia for alleged use of banned stimulant nandrolone.

The punishment was upheld by the Italian football federation before he was eventually cleared.  However, the country's anti-doping prosecutor has persuaded the Italian Olympic Committee to re-examine the case.  Guardiola told El Mundo Deportivo: "The ruling has already cleared me. I'm not worried, it's a minor problem".  Guardiola's case will be heard on September 15.

uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/01082009/58/liga-bbva-guardiola-cool-doping-case.html



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Fernando Torres: The Premier League is The Strongest League
01 August 2009

England's top division is streets ahead of the rest, according to 'El Nino'...

Liverpool striker Fernando Torres has revealed his belief that the Premier League is the strongest club competition in the world. Torres has taken England's top flight by storm since arriving at Anfield in 2007 from his first professional club Atletico Madrid. The Spanish international says there is no comparison between the Premier League and the Primera Division, despite the strong personnel currently plying their trade in his homeland.

"English football has an enormous following across the world, not just because of the players but because of its history, its tradition, the excitement, the capacity crowds," Torres told the club's official website.
 
"The other leagues can learn a lot, even La Liga. Madrid have signed Kaka and [Cristiano] Ronaldo, and Barcelona have Xavi and [Lionel] Messi but, really, the Premier League is way ahead."

www.goal.com/en/news/9/england/2009/08/01/1415971/liverpools-fernando-torres-premier-league-is-the-strongest



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Cristiano Ronaldo - Oasis are no Ricky Martin
01 August 2009

OASIS have had a few insults hurled their way over the years but CRISTIANO RONALDO has delivered the best one yet.  The ex Manchester Utd ace, an unpopular lad in the sky-blue half of the city, reckons the band aren't a patch on Latino pop singer RICKY MARTIN.

The Real Madrid star has been locked in a rib-tickling exchange with the Manc lads after he revealed his desire to get them to play a private gig.  NOEL replied that he always knew the Portuguese winger had great taste but the £80million world record signing would never be able to afford them.

I have nothing but respect for Ronaldo for playing ball by chipping in yet again with a put-down Mr Big would have been proud of.  He said: "If Noel or Liam want to let me know what they charge for a private gig, they can give me a call or let you guys know and you can pass the message on.

"I mean it can't be that expensive can it? They're no Ricky Martin."

Read the rest of the article at www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/showbiz/bizarre/2566722/Cristiano-Ronaldos-jibe-at-Oasis.html



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Barcelona figures Laporta & Enrique pay tribute to Sir Bobby Robson
01 August 2009

The tributes have flown in from Catalunya for the legendary manager.

Spain has joined the mourning of mythical football figure, Sir Bobby Robson who passed away on July 31 following his long battle with cancer.  The 76-year-old had a very brief but extremely successful one-year spell as the coach of Barcelona in the 1996/97 season and the Catalan juggernauts have joined in the tributes.

Current club president, Joan Laporta immediately addressed the media after hearing news of Robson’s passing while in the United States of America for the team’s pre-season tour.

“We will always have personal and professional memories of him,” Barca’s official website quoted him saying.

“He was a gentleman of football and at Barca, he also won the treble (Supercup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Copa del Rey).

“He arrived at a period when he had won everything and in the time he was with us, he got some good results. We are very grateful for that. Only a man of his experience could have dealt with the situation like he did.

“He came back to the Camp Nou not long ago and we had the pleasure of looking after him. He was a really charming man, a true gentleman. Nobody could have a bad word to say about him.

“He always spoke well of Barca and always showered great love for the club.

Meanwhile, one of Robson’s pupils, Luis Enrique, who is now the coach of Barca Athletic, said, “It was a fantastic year both for football and for personal experiences. Although he was only on the bench for a year, Robson was a manager who left his mark.

“He was a very intimate man. He found it hard to speak Spanish and instead spoke to us in English, but he was very intimate in his manner.

“He is a great loss not just in a footballing sense. People only had good words for him wherever he went. He was a very likable person on a human level.”

Real Madrid and Juventus also paid tribute to Robson by holding a one-minute silence prior to their semi-final Peace Cup clash on Friday evening. Barcelona will be represented at his funeral by one of the vice presidents.

www.goal.com/en-us/news/85/england/2009/07/31/1415524/barcelona-figures-laporta-enrique-pay-homage-to-sir-bobby



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Peace Cup - Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid
01 August 2009

Juventus 2-1 Real Madrid

Salihadmizic Heads Juve Into Peace Cup Final.  The Bianconeri are through to the Peace Cup showpiece event after edging past their great European rivals.

The two giants of the game went head to head in the second semi-final of the Peace Cup and as expected, it was a clash Real Madrid dominated and created plenty of chances while Juventus happily played on the break. It took only 30 seconds for the Bianconeri to make their intentions clear when Mauro Camoranesi clattered hard into the back of Royston Drenthe and the Dutchman was left with an instant headache.

Two minutes later, Madrid repaid the favor when Miguel Torres barged down Camoranesi just outside the box towards the left but from the freekick, Juve surged ahead. Alessandro Del Piero curled in his effort straight at goal and who else but Fabio Cannavaro ghosted in behind the defense and thumped a header past a wrong-footed Jerzy Dudek.

Madrid responded immediately as they sauntered forward with intent down both flanks but it was the Italians who came close to doubling their advantage on ten minutes. Giovinco slipped in a lovely through ball to the left for Amauri, who pulled his shot just wide at the far post. And mere seconds later, Del Piero was left all alone inside the box to meet Hasan Salihamidzic’s cross but he just didn’t get enough purchase on his free header to trouble Dudek....

Continued at: www.goal.com/en-us/news/86/italy/2009/07/31/1415340/juventus-2-1-real-madrid-salihadmizic-heads-juve-into-peace



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Liverpool to sign David Villa once Xabi Alonso's transfer to Real Madrid is complete
01 August 2009

Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez is expected to make a move for Valencia's David Villa once Xabi Alonso's £30 million move to Real Madrid has gone through.

By Telegraph staff
Published: 9:31AM BST 01 Aug 2009

With Alonso guaranteed to leave this summer having submitted a transfer request earlier this week following months of speculation, Benitez and his scouting team have been on the look out for a suitable replacement.  According to the Sun, Alonso is expected to complete his deal with Real within the next 24 hours giving Benitez enough disposable cash to pair Villa up with his compatriot Fernando Torres. Liverpool are said to be confident of their chances of snapping up the 26-year-old, who has already turned down offers from Real and Barcelona this summer, but have prepared a back up plan should they encounter any obstacles. If signing Villa evades the club, Roma midfielder Alberto Aquilani, 24 is also on Benitez's radar.

While he would not come cheap - Roma rate their home-grown star at £30m - there are signs that his club would not stand in the way of a transfer to Liverpool.  Roma's financial situation puts them in a position where they are unable to object to big money transfers, which plays into the hands of Benitez. There is currently an ownership row surrounding the club, after the agent Vinicio Fioranelli, representing a Swiss corporation saw his takeover bid collapse.

www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/leagues/premierleague/liverpool/5954408/Liverpool-to-move-for-David-Villa-once-Xabi-Alonsos-move-to-Real-Madrid-is-complete.html



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