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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020

#Soccer

WITH LESS THAN FOUR weeks to go until the closure of the transfer window – keeping those poor millionaire footballers tied to their current employers for a savage four whole months – it can be difficult to keep up with all the wheeling and dealing.

That’s why we’ve done you a favour by grabbing all the rumours, conjecture, and downright lies circulating the interwebs to bring you a concise, hit-by-hit list of what’s going on in the transfer world.

We’re nice, aren’t we?

  • Manchester City’s international exile Stephen Ireland is linked with a move to Aston Villa; Martin O’Neill is said to be a big fan of the Corkman and is prepared to swap James Milner to take command of him.
    There’s just one problem though – the serial granny-worrier isn’t prepared to take a pay cut, being on over £3m a year, and Villa aren’t necessarily all that keen on forking out quite so much.
  • One of the reasons Ireland is being shunted away from Eastlands is because City are trying to free up cash for the transfer of Inter Milan striker Mario Balotelli. Similarly, though, pay is an issue for Balotelli too.
    City have no problem handing over the £25m to sign him, but the Italian wants £180,000 – that’s €215,000, almost as much as Brian Cowen gets in a year – per week, and won’t budge on his demands. City, unsurprisingly, aren’t keen.
  • Spartak Moscow fans, meanwhile, are angry at how much their club are willing to pay for Ireland international Aiden McGeady, who’s in town to agree a transfer from Celtic.
    It’s believed Spartak would destroy their wage structure, prepared to offer him almost €50,000 a week, and fans aren’t sure he’s worth the club’s money. Predictably, they’ve apparently named him… McGreedski.
  • Tottenham are said to be in a bidding war with Newcastle for Sporting Lisbon forward Yannick Djalo – guess who’s going to win there. Interestingly, though, that’d be another person competing against Robbie Keane for a starting berth.
  • Fresh from scoring seven at the Aviva last night, Manchester United are willing to hand over Anderson in exchange for Lassana Diarra from Real Madrid, who – like most of their current roster – is surplus to requirements. Young Senegalese man Mame Biram Diouf is on his way out of Old Trafford after just one year – though only temporarily, apparently being loaned to Blackburn.
  • Champions Chelsea, meanwhile, are about to finalise the purchase of Brazilian midfielder Ramires pending his medical which could be held as quickly as this evening.

CHINA INVESTMENT CORPORATION (CIC) – the Chinese government’s foreign investment fund – is widely reported this morning as being behind the bid of Hong Kong investor Kenny Huang to buy Liverpool football club.

The Guardian reports that CIC has sold $558m of its shares in banking giant Morgan Stanley in the last two weeks – raising exactly the amount needed to cover Liverpool’s debt of £351.4m (€424m), and exactly the amount at which the club is valued by Huang’s consortium.

The fact that the government has been moving to liquidate its assets means that it is almost certain to make a move to take over the Anfield club.

It is also suggested that with the Chinese government funding the takeover and clearing the club’s debt, that Huang would be able to offer club boss Roy Hodgson a transfer kitty of about £150m (€181m).

CIC would be expected to take a back-seat role in the club’s affairs, with its website stating:

CIC usually does not seek an active role in the companies in which it invests nor attempts to influence those companies’ operations.

CIC seeks long-term, stable, sustainable, and risk-adjusted return.

The move comes as a bid led by former Saudi international Yahya Kirdi is widely suggested to be an artificially-created bid intended to inflate the asking price of the club in the absence of any other significant bidders.

Kirdi is known to be a close friend of the son of George Gillett, one of Liverpool’s current co-owners along with fellow American Tom Hicks.

The proposed involvement of the Chinese government in the club’s ownership, however, raises the awkward proposition of having the Premier League scrutinising the government as part of its Owners and Directors Test.

REPUBLIC OF IRELAND midfielder Aiden McGeady is in Moscow with a view to finalising the terms of a potential £9m (€10.8m) switch from Celtic to Spartak Moscow. Celtic boss Neil Lennon is keen to finalise the sale so he can finalise his own summer transfer plans.

PREMIER LEAGUE CHAMPIONS Chelsea are on the verge of securing the signature of Brazilian World Cup midfielder Ramires from Benfica for a fee of about £17m (€20.5m).

The 23-year-old is understood to be scheduled for a medical at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday, and to be signed up for a four-year deal.

The BBC reports that the transfer is somewhat complicated, however, by the fact that his current club Benfica only own 50% of the player, with a British consortium owning the other 50% in a deal similar to those of Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano.

The owners are believed to include controversial businessman Kia Joorabchian – who was involved in the Tevez-Mascherano saga.

“Ramires staying doesn’t depend solely on us,” The Sun quotes Benfica president Luis Filipe Vieira as saying.

“There is a partnership and we must respect that. If there is a good proposal, we will do everything we can to make it work for us.”

Ramires was left out of the club’s 4-1 pre-season win over Aston Villa on Sunday as negotiations conintued.

The tough-tackling midfielder won praise from national coach Dunga after impressive appearances as a substitute in Brazil’s World Cup group games.

Ramirez joins a Chelsea squad that already includes Michael Essien, Frank Lamoard, Yossi Benayoun, John Obi Mikel, Florent Malouda, Nemanja Matic and Scott Sinclair vying for midfield berths.

Ramires would become the 29th member of the squad, with coach Carlo Ancelotti required to register a maximum of 25 players for Premier League competition before the end of the month.

WAYNE ROONEY will be among the Manchester United first 11 lining out at the Aviva Stadium on Wednesday.

United will take on a selection of top Irish talent from the Airtricity League on Wednesday and Rooney’s appearance will be his first since a dismal world cup performance. Four other senior players, who haven’t played for United since the world cup will also make an appearance. The five have missed United’s tour of North America and the subsequent friendly in Mexico.

Speaking on Sunday United boss Alex Ferguson said: “Rooney, Park, Carrick and Vidic are back in training and are doing well.

“Valencia is also training well and needs a game. All of them will be involved and Chicharito (Hernandez) will be part of the squad.”

Ferguson also said that the sides two Republic of Ireland internationals – Darron Gibson and John O’Shea – will play. “Yes, they deserve to, and O’Shea will probably be captain.”
United will be the first international soccer team to play in the stadium which hosted a rugby clash at the weekend but what does Sir Alex think? “it looks fantastic, it is spectacular”

FIFA’S RULING ALLOWING players born in Northern Ireland to play for the Republic, has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport. The court dismissed an appeal by the Northern Ireland soccer federation to FIFA’s rule.

The Northern Irish body claimed that Daniel Kearns was the latest player poached by the Republic of Ireland. Kearns, who has dual citizenship, switched his allegiance to the national side of the Republic after playing for Northern Ireland at youth level.

Man United player Darron Gibson, Porsmouth’s Marc Wilson and Everton’s Shane Duffy have all switched over to the Republic’s team.

The North’s Irish Football Association said it was disappointed by the Swiss court’s ruling, but wished Kearns the “best of luck in his future footballing career.”

The FIFA ruling means that players born in either the North or the Republic can play for the other team, even if they do not have a parent or grandparent from there. Players can only change their nationality before playing a senior competitive game.

JUST WHEN YOU THINK you’re on top of the world, winning over 26 major honours in recent years – including the much coveted trebble, someone takes a swipe.

That swipe came from Sports Illustrated, the popular US sports magazine, who say that Manchester United’s trebble-winning team of 1999 is one of the most disliked sports teams of all time. United came in number 10 in the survey, the only soccer team to make the list of 25 and Sports Illustrated even gave special mention to Ireland’s own Roy Keane.

The magazine claims the manner of United’s victory on that famous night in Barcelona merely intensified the feeling of disdain, coming as it did with two goals in stoppage time against a dominant Bayern Munich.

But are United really worthy of such an ‘honour’? Others on the  list include the 1976 German women’s Olympic swim team, who won 11 of their 13 races, before they were later found guilty of doping offences. Also joinging United on the list, are the New York Mets baseball team of 1986 – nicknamed ‘the scum bunch’.

No doubt ABU’s (Anything But United) everywhere will be delighted.

Watch the report here.

SHAMROCKS ROVERS have lost the first leg of their two-part qualifier against Juventus. The visitors scored early in the game and added a second goal in the 75th minute to compound their win. Both were scored by Brazilian striker Amauri. Rovers will now play Juve in Italy on 6 August.

JUVENTUS HAVE scored within three minutes of their third-leg Europa League qualifier against Shamrock Rovers. Amauri pipped it past Mannus to score. Over 6,000 Rovers fans have turned out for the event, alongside a smattering of Juve fans.

FORMER ENGLAND SKIPPER and LA Galaxy star David Beckham could be on his way home to England.

Beckham is set to return from an Achilles injury in the coming weeks, before coming back to Europe in January.

Co-owner of West Ham David Gold told The Sun: “We had some discussions with David’s agents a few months ago and it was a possibility. “He’s preoccupied with a number of projects at the moment but he’s promised he will give every consideration to the possibility of joining us.”

The star was born in East London and is apparently keen to return to the UK.

Elsewhere, Liverpool are set to make a bid for Aston Villa midfielder Stiliyan Petrov in an offer said to be over £7m according to The Mirror.

RAÚL, the Spanish front man has agreed a two year deal with Bundesliga’s Schalke.

Raul went on a free transfer having broken ties with Real Madrid.

Raul has spent his entire career in the Bernabeu becoming a legendary figure there.

Born Raul González Blanco, but known simply as Raul. The Spanish hero is a three time winner of the Champion’s League and an all-time goal scorer for the competition.

He’s scored 323 goals for Real in 740 appearances. Raúl is also the all-time goal scorer with the Spanish national team. Having formerly captained the team, the star struggled to make the Spanish team since coach Manuel Pellegrini’s arrived in 2009.

Earlier this summer the striker revealed that he had offers from Germany and England to consider.

Schalke’s coach Felix Magath said he was delighted with his signing.”This is great news for Schalke,” Magath told the club’s website. I am pleased that we have succeeded in signing such an exceptional footballer and world-class striker.

“His qualities will help us. His commitment will be crucial in our efforts to strengthen the squad for future success.

ARGENTINIAN LEGEND Diego Maradona has been ousted as coach of Argentina’s soccer team. The Argentine Football Association said on Tuesday, that it would not renew Maradona’s contract, as had previously been expected.

The ‘hand of god’ star spent 21 months in charge of the national team, that was eventually eliminated in the World Cup quarter-finals. A disappointing performance for a team that had once been favourites.

Despite the performance, Maradona got a hero’s welcome in Buenos Aires when his team returned from South Africa with President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner urging Maradona to hang on.

Maradona had been offered a renewal of his contract that would see him lead Argentina through the 2014 World Cup, but the star told local media on Sunday he wanted to stay on as coach, but only if he could keep control over the choice of his back room staff. This proved unacceptable to Argentine Football Association President Julio Grodona who asked for several assistants to be sacked.

The federation’s executive sided with their President and unanimously decided not to renew Maradona’s contract.

ROBBIE KEANE has been told he could play a major role in Tottenham’s coming season by boss Harry Redknapp.

The Ireland captain – who was loaned out to Celtic for the second half of last season, having become a bit part in Spurs’ successful bid to qualify for the Champions’ League – had been linked with a permanent move north of the border.

But the Tottenham boss says Keane has every chance of being a significant part in Tottenham’s season as they do battle on four fronts.

Redknapp had previously said that Keane, 30, would only be loaned out again if he was unhappy with the amount of time on the pitch he was being offered at White Hart Lane, and that he would only be let move full-time if another club lodged a substantial bid.

The Tallaght man will face stiff competition from the likes of Roman Pavlyuchenko, Peter Crouch and Jermain Defoe for a starting berth this season, but has impressed in pre-season and has been told he could start in Spurs’ first game of the season.

Keane scored in Tottenham’s 2-2 draw with Sporting Lisbon yesterday, following up his goal against the New York Red Bulls (a game in which Thierry Henry scored on his debut) on Thursday.

Redknapp said Keane “looked sharp and bright – and he is still very much in the plans.

“He wants to start every game and if he keeps playing as he did today, he can do… there is every chance he could start.”

Meanwhile, international exile Stephen Ireland has been told to consider a move away from Manchester City after being warned he might not make Roberto Mancini’s final 25-man Premier League squad.

MANCHESTER UNITED chief executive David Gill has confirmed that Nemanja Vidic has agreed a contract extension – and that he is confident Wayne Rooney will follow suit by confirming to stay at Old Trafford.

Vidic had been persistently linked with moves abroad in recent years, with Real Madrid named as a constant destination, while there had also been longstanding rumours that the Serb’s wife had not settled in Manchester and wanted to move.

United have confirmed an oral agreement with the defender that commits his long-term future to the club, however, and he has agreed to sign when he returns from holiday in a few weeks’ time.

With Rio Ferdinand still overcoming the injury that ruled him out of the World Cup, on the back of a longstanding back problem, Vidic’s commitment to remain at the club is a welcome development for United.

Rooney, like Vidic, has two years left to run on his current contract and now the focus has turned to him, with United desperate to retain control over the player who scored 34 goals for them last term.

Gill told the club station MUTV that he hope to “meet with Wayne and his advisors when we’re back from tour, and he’s back from holiday, with a view to sorting out a new deal for him.

“It’s clear from what he has said, and what the club have said, that both parties are very keen to sort things out and secure his long-term future at United.”

The developments come just four days after manager Sir Alex Ferguson declared himself happy with the current squad, and ruling out any transfer activity for the rest of the summer.

WE’VE BEEN CURSING Thierry Henry ever since THAT incident. There’s always been hope that he’d get his comeuppance, and certainly France’s premature exit from the World Cup was some satisfaction, but is it enough?

Today at The Journal.ie, we can reveal footage from the future that shows what will happen to Henry when he reaches the pearly gates of Heaven.


The Late Thierry Henry

LIVERPOOL have completed the signing of midfielder Joe Cole after he passed his medical.

The 28-year-old agreed personal terms on Monday after being released by Chelsea at the end of last season. He then flew to Switzerland to join his team mates at a training camp in Bad Ragaz, where he also underwent a medical.

Cole  will don the number 10 shirt and not the 7 shirt as previously reported. Liverpool legends Kevin Keegan and Kenny Dalglish have worn the shirt in the pass.

Steven Gerrard also committed to the club this morning. He told the Liverpool Echo: “I wanted the chance to meet Roy Hodgson privately and having done so, I’m very impressed with his plans for the future.

“I’ve only returned to training today at Melwood with some of the other World Cup players, but I can’t wait for the new season to start.”

Both Gerrard and Jamie Carragher have hailed Cole’s arrival, saying it’s a sign that manager Roy Hodgson is showing excellent intent and ambition ahead of the new season.

Cole’s deal is said to be worth over £18m and will see him earning £90k a week. Tottenham and Arsenal were also said to be interested in the midfielder.

IF SHAMROCK ROVERS can beat Bnei Yehuda in next week’s Europa League second leg, they’ll win a glamour tie against giants Juventus in the final qualifying round. Sporting Fingal may face either the brilliantly-named Honka Espoo (Finland) or Bangor City (Wales).

DIEGO MARADONA will be offered a new four-year deal to stay on as Argentina’s coach,  the BBC reports. The new contract will see him on board until the next World Cup, which is being hosted in Brazil.

Argentina made it to the quarter-finals of this year’s tournament, before being beaten out 4-0 by Germany.

Maradona is well known for his passion on the sideline. Check out his celebrations when Argentina scored against Peru in the World Cup qualifiers (around 1:15):

THIERRY HENRY is leaving Barcelona – for New York. The 32-year-old French striker has signed with the New York Red Bulls in a multi-year deal, despite having one year left on his contract with the Spanish side. Man United’s Ryan Giggs has ruled out a similar move, saying he won’t be finishing his career in the US. Giggs holds the club record for his 838 appearances.

THE IRISH FOOTBALL TEAM have climbed up fives places in the world rankings to 36th, despite not making it to the World Cup. The new rankings out today put Spain at number one, up one place. England meanwhile have also moved up one place to seventh in the rankings, despite a dismal performance at the World Cup.

France have suffered one of the biggest drops, dropping 12 places to 21 after crashing out of the World Cup amid team rows and controversy reminiscent of Ireland in Saipan.

Ireland was 12th in February 2005 but peaked at number 6 in July 1993.

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