International News - Issue 188

Solskjaer Returning To England To Manage Cardiff 
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to be announced as the new coach of English Premiership side Cardiff City. The former Manchester United striker was in the stands on New Year’s Day as the Welsh club lost 2-0 to Arsenal. Cardiff are currently without a coach following the dismissal of Malky Mackay last week; this after the well-publicised fallout with club owner Vincent Tan. Solskjaer, currently in charge of Norwegian club Molde, flew into London on Tan’s private jet on Thursday, with an official announcement expected before the end of the week. - Full Story via Kickoff

Malky Mackay feels he can hold his head high despite being sacked by Cardiff City. The 41-year-old was fired after City's home loss to Southampton, a result which left the Welsh club 16th on the Premier League table with 17 points from 18 games - one point above the drop zone. Mackay released a statement, which said: "It is with the deepest and most sincere regret that I today confirm my sacking as Manager of Cardiff City FC. As disappointing as today's decision is, I am already able to look back at my time at Cardiff City FC with immense pride and joy given the number of milestones the club achieved during the last two-and-a-half years. - Full Story via Kickoff

Jose Mourinho has left the door open for Juan Mata to quit Chelsea this month, despite insisting he doesn’t want the Spaniard to leave. Mata started Wednesday’s match against Southampton, but reacted angrily when he was again substituted before the hour mark by Mourinho. But while the Chelsea boss insisted he was unaware of the midfielder’s frustration, Mourinho admitted Mata’s Stamford Bridge future is uncertain. - Full Story via Metro

Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be open to a move to Celtic after admitting he would love to play in front of the Celtic Park faithful. Speaking to The Sun, the Paris Saint-Germain forward hinted towards ending his playing career in Glasgow, revealing the lure of playing in front of a loud, passionate crowd was a real draw. "Celtic is a club with a big tradition and a place any top player would want to end their career," Ibrahimovic told the Sun. "How could I say I wouldn't want to play for those fans every week?" The 32-year-old may well follow compatriot Henrik Larsson in signing for the Hoops; Swede Larsson spent seven years playing for the Hoops in the Scottish Premier League. - Full Story via ESPN

Cardiff City owner Vincent Tan has already established himself as one of the more colourful foreign owners in English football. But Tan’s strange habits go a lot further than changing the club’s colours and then deciding to hate the manager – after his bizarre transfer plans were revealed. According to reports, Tan has informed Cardiff’s board that he prefers them to buy players with the number eight in their birth date. So for example, any player born on January 8th 1988 would be right in there with Tan, who is planning on splashing the cash on new signings in the new year. - Full Story via Metro

Turkish outfit Besiktas are in negotiations to sign Manchester City defender Joleon Lescott and two-time World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho. Lescott's contract with City expires at the end of the season, while Besiktas have been pursuing Atletico Miniero star Ronaldinho for weeks. "We are negotiating with Manchester City over defender Joleon Lescott," Besiktas board member Ahmet Kavalci said. "There will be some important development about this on Thursday. - Full Story via Kickoff

Tottenham have confirmed Tim Sherwood will manage the club until the end of next season, having handed the rookie coach an 18-month deal. The 44-year-old, who was formerly a technical co-ordinator at White Hart Lane, had never led a top-tier outfit prior to last week following the sacking of Andre Villas-Boas. In his four league games in charge so far, Sherwood has claimed 10 points from a possible 12 with the most notable result a 2-1 win at Old Trafford on Wednesday. - Full Story via Kickoff

Olivier Giroud has urged Arsene Wenger not to buy another striker in the January transfer window. Giroud broke his barren run by heading home the winner against Newcastle United, to send Arsenal top of the Premier League table. And despite the fact that the Frenchman has had to lead the line on his own for most of the season, Giroud has begged Wenger not to buy another striker next month. “If the coach wants me to rest, he can do it without buying a new striker,” he told French TV. “Lukas Podolski is having a good come-back. Theo Walcott can play as a striker. - Full Story via Metro

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien could leave the club in the January transfer window, according to the 31-year-old's agent Fabian Piveteau. Essien has only started two league games for the Blues this season. Piveteau told French radio station: "[Essien] could leave Chelsea this winter. Several major European clubs playing in the Champions League were informed and the situation should settle down within the next 10 days. You should know that Michael was not on the list of players who can play in the Champions League with Chelsea, so he is free to play in the competition with another club. - Full Story via The Telegraph

Everton captain Phil Jagielka faces up to four weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury. The centre-back suffered the blow in the Merseysiders' 1-0 loss to Sunderland on Boxing Day, with Antolin Alcaraz taking his place in Sunday's 2-1 defeat of Southampton. - Full Story via Kickoff

Adidas spent two and a half years testing brazuca, using 600 players, 30 professional and national teams in 10 countries – making it the most tested ball adidas has ever created. Brazuca is also the first ever six-panel ball, combining the best technology from the popular Tango 12 and UEFA Champions League balls to improve symmetry, uniformity and efficiency. - Full Story via Kickoff

Ghana and Schalke midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng was physically assaulted on Christmas Day. The 26-year-old, who sustained 'mild' injuries, was attacked in Kaarst, a town near the city of Dusseldorf. A statement released by police read: "On Wednesday, December 25, 2013, at around 12.45, an incident of physical assault took place in Kaarst. A 26-year-old man, a resident of Meerbusch, was physically attacked on the street by a currently unidentified man. - Full Story via Ahram

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho has singled out Luis Suarez for criticism, accusing the Liverpool striker of diving in the clubs' meeting at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. In an abrasive tie, the Blues came from behind to win 2-1 thanks to goals from Samuel Eto'o and Eden Hazard after Martin Skrtel gave the Merseysiders an early lead in west London. But Suarez went down in the Chelsea box late on following a challenge from Eto'o - raising the ire of Mourinho. - Full Story via Kickoff

Nicolas Anelka faces a possible 10-match ban after the controversial quenelle gesture he made after scoring in West Bromwich Albion's 3-3 draw with West Ham on Saturday. The "quenelle" – described as an inverted Nazi salute – is linked to anti-Zionist French comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala. The French government is trying to ban M'bala M'bala's shows over his use of the gesture. Anelka made the gesture, described by some as a "reverse Nazi salute", while celebrating the first of his two goals for West Brom at Upton Park – his first goals for the club since joining on a free transfer in the summer. - Full Story via Kickoff

Italian striker Mario Balotelli has signed a personal sponsorship deal with PUMA. The AC Milan star joins the likes of Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas, Marco Reus and Radamel Falcao, who have all penned endorsement contracts with the sportswear company. - Full Story via Kickoff Nigeria