International News - 16th - 22nd August 2013


Downing Leaves Liverpool for West Ham To Play Regularly

West Ham United have completed the signing of Stewart Downing from Liverpool for £6m. The England winger has agreed a four-year contract after passing a medical on Tuesday and follows Joe Cole and Andy Carroll as high-earning Liverpool players to swap Anfield for Upton Park during Sam Allardyce's reign. "I'm very excited. It's a great opportunity for me being here, it's a great club and I'm really excited to get going," said the Middlesbrough-born wideman. "I'm ready and I'm fit for the first game against Cardiff City. I've played a decent few games for Liverpool in pre-season, so there will be no problems on that front. The deal represents a loss of £14m for Liverppol on his £20m transfer from Aston Villa only two years ago. Downing was initially opposed to the idea of joining West Ham when they approached Liverpool last month. However, it has been made clear to the winger he will not be a regular under Brendan Rodgers this season. He was also subject of an inquiry from Newcastle United but that was not followed up with an official bid to Liverpool.

Brendan Rodgers says he will ‘do everything’ to build bridges between Luis Suarez and Liverpool.

The Reds striker has been exiled from the first-team squad since revealing his desire to join Arsenal, but Rodgers is keen to put things right. The Northern Irishman took a strong public stance over Suarez’s plea to leave the club, demanding that the Uruguayan apologise before being allowed back to train with the rest of the squad. Sources close to Suarez suggest the striker has no intention of apologising, but Rodgers is seemingly prepared to bide his time. “It is something that we have to do everything we can to fix,” Rodgers said. “If we have got to sit and wait, then so be it. But this is a club that has got great values, and we hope that the situation can be resolved amicably, and I am sure it will be. There has been a lot said and a lot reported, and we have made a stance, as a club and as a manager, of the commitment and the standards required. If you don’t have that commitment and those standards then you won’t play. It’s as simple as that. There’s no problem between me and him, it is quite calm. But obviously I have got to respect the club and the team. It doesn’t matter who you are, if they’re not pulling their weight then they are letting down the club, the city and everyone who has stood by them. So until I get that assurance that we are going to get nothing but 100 per cent commitment, then there will be no solution.

Since then Suarez Suarez has said he is ready to commit his immediate future to Liverpool after claiming the love of the fans has convinced him to abandon his plans to join Arsenal.

The Reds striker, who last week issued an explosive plea to be allowed to quit Anfield, has now performed a remarkable U-turn in the wake of owner John W Henry’s complete resistance against a sale. “For now, because of all the affection of the people, I would be staying,” The reversal in attitude from the 26-year-old may even go as far as seeing him pen a new contract with the Reds, albeit one that is likely to include a definite release clause for next summer. The news will come as a welcome boost to Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, who reiterated the importance of the club hanging on to their star of last season.

Luiz Gustavo has indicated he’d be happy to link up with Arsenal should they successfully complete negotiations with Bayern Munich.

The Brazilian midfielder is surplus to requirements at the Allianz Arena this season, and the Gunners are believed to have tabled a £17million offer for his services. Wolfsburg and Napoli are also understood to be keen on the 26-year-old, but Gustavo admits he’s particularly drawn to Arsenal. “My contract with Bayern runs until 2015, but it is very important that I play first-team football to keep getting called up for the national team,” said the defensive midfielder prior to Brazil’s friendly against Switzerland. “I am in a delicate situation at Bayern, and this needs sorting out. I have personal and professional reasons to move. I have heard about the Arsenal interest. It’s a big club we’re talking about here, so of course I’d like to play for them. Arsenal play a very attractive brand of football and are in the Champions League. They also have a very clever manager in Arsene Wenger.

Samuel Eto’o has opened the door to a reunion with Jose Mourinho at Chelsea after being put up for sale by Anzhi Makhachkala.

Reports suggest the entire first team of the big-spending Russian outfit have been transfer listed in a bit to slash their outgoings, and Eto’o, 32, who enjoyed great success under Mourinho at Inter Milan, admits he’d jump at the chance to link up with the Special One again at Stamford Bridge. “There is only one Jose Mourinho. I have played under a lot of great coaches – but there is no other character in the game like Jose,” Eto’o said. “He is one of the best coaches in the world – and we had a lot of success together at Inter Milan. I would like to have the chance to play under him again – because it is never boring when Jose is around. Of course Chelsea are a great team – and when we have all the offers on the table then I will discuss with my agent and see what my next step is.” Napoli, now managed by former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez, are also thought to be monitoring the Cameroonian’s situation, but his agent Claudio Vigorelli has revealed no contact has been made.

Lyon president Jean-Michel Aulas claims Yoann Gourcuff is ready to take a pay cut to join Arsenal.

The playmaker, 27, has endured a miserable time with Lyon since making his £19million switch from Bordeux back in 2010, but still pockets a reported £80,000-a-week. This has made shifting the Frenchman difficult, but Aulas claims that although he would never consider loaning Gourcuff to a rival Ligue 1 side, the midfielder – who has been heavily linked with Arsenal over the years – is willing to take a salary hit to engineer a move to London. “All that I know, if I understood correctly, is that he was ready to lower his salary to go to Arsenal.” Aulas is currently in the process of trying to extend Gourcuff’s contract on a reduced wage, and was given fresh hope that the playmaker maybe finally turning a corner after assisting two and scoring a belting free-kick during Lyon’s 4-0 win over Nice at the weekend. “We can’t change the contract,’ he said. ‘The only solution is to extend it. “If there’s someone to criticise for his salary, it’s me. I signed it, that contract, with his agent.”

Conference South side Farnborough have passed up on the opportunity to snap up Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo but have unveiled the signings of Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Pele and Diego Maradona… well in a way that sentence is true.

As part of an unusual sponsorship agreement with betting company Paddy Power, known for their innovative PR, the club have renamed their ground, updated the kit and all players and even the manager have legally changed their names to footballing legends. The likes of Kevin Scriven, Alan Inns, Paul Massaquoi and Dave Tarpey have changed their names with icons who played in their respective positions, from Gordon Banks to Gary Lineker. Manager Spencer Day has also gone through the makeover – he is now known as Jose Mourinho. Farnborough’s future has been secured with the sponsorship deal – the club has been trapped in administration since April – and Cherrywood Lane is now Paddy Power Park.

Gareth Bale has refused to be drawn on his potential transfer to Real Madrid, but Tottenham fans received a boost after Christian Eriksen admitted his future could lie at White Hart Lane.

Bale was accosted by Spanish reporters and TV crews, who were camped outside the Welsh national team base in Newport. But when asked for an update on his future in the players’ car park, he simply replied: “I’m really sorry, now’s not the time to talk.” Madrid are still believed to be in the hunt for Bale, but are reluctant to meet Spurs’ £100million-plus asking price. A positive for Spurs, though, has come in the form of Ajax playmaker Eriksen, who revealed he would be interested in a move should the north Londoners firm up their interest. “Tottenham are a great club,” said Eriksen, who is also a target for Liverpool. “I know from Vertonghen that it is a good club which is interesting, but there has not been any contact. I do not know if I am going to leave Ajax. We’ll find out in two weeks. There are to my knowledge no negotiations right now either with a new club or Ajax. If there is a good approach (from another club), I see as an opportunity to try something new, but if nothing comes, I do not mind staying.”

Liverpool have made an £8million bid for PSG defender Mamadou Sakho as Brendan Rodgers looks to continue his summer spending.

The Reds have already made moves to bring in Simon Mignolet, Iago Aspas, Luis Alberto and Kolo Toure to Anfield during the transfer window, but Rodgers is not stopping there. A new centre back is a main priority, and the Reds have now lodged an offer to try and bring in 23-year-old France international Sakho. The defender has been told he is free to leave PSG this summer, after they signed Marquinhos from Roma, and Liverpool have moved in. According to reports in France, their opening bid for Sakho is around £8million, and PSG are currently deciding whether to accept or reject it. Liverpool are also in the market for another left-back, but have so far been unable to bring in anybody.

Scott Parker will be reunited with manager Harry Redknapp when he completes a move across London from Tottenham to QPR.

The deal will cost the Championship club in the region of £2million and is subject to Parker passing a medical and agreeing personal terms. Hoops boss Redknapp said: “We’re hopeful of getting Scotty signed soon. He’s a great lad and will be a really good signing for us.” But the 32-year-old Londoner is struggling for playing time in Andre Villas-Boas’ side following Sandro’s return from injury and the £17m capture of Brazil international Paulinho. Tottenham are also very close to completing a £9m deal with Toulouse for Etienne Capoue, further reducing Parker’s chances at White Hart Lane.