International News - Issue 195

Fulham Bomb Meulensteen and Hire German Coach
Fulham have confirmed the appointment of Felix Magath as first team manager. The German joins on an 18-month contract, replacing Dutchman Rene Meulensteen, who came in for Martin Jol early in the season. “I am very happy to welcome Felix Magath to Fulham Football Club,” owner Shahid Khan told the club's official website. “Felix is an accomplished manager with multiple honours in the Bundesliga and a hunger to replicate his success with Fulham in the Barclays Premier League. - Full Story via Kickoff

Joleon Lescott turned in an excellent display at the heart of the Manchester City defence in the FA Cup revenge mission over Chelsea but accepts he will be leaving the Etihad in the summer. The England centre back formed a rock-solid partnership with captain Vincent Kompany as Manuel Pellegrini’s men saw off the Blues 2-0, avenging their league defeat to Jose Mourinho’s men two weeks ago. Lescott, 31, enjoyed the rare outing but isn’t expecting the club to change their stance and offer him an extension on his current contract, which runs out at the end of the season. - Full Story via Metro

Arsene Wenger moved a step closer to ending Arsenal’s eight-year trophy drought and then claimed the moral high ground in his spat with Jose Mourinho. The Chelsea boss this week described Wenger as a ‘specialist in failure’. However, after seeing his team gain revenge for last week’s 5-1 thrashing at Anfield, Wenger responded to the Portuguese’s broadside with a withering assessment of his own. - Full Story via Metro

Schalke have revealed the only reason that Julian Draxler didn’t join Arsenal in January was because the Gunners didn’t stump up the required fee. The 20-year-old’s on-off move to the Emirates was one of the sagas of the transfer window. Draxler – who is believed to have a £37.3million release clause in his contract - appeared destined for north London on deadline day but in the end the deal failed to materialise. - Full Story via Metro

Monaco striker Radamel Falcao may still feature for Colombia at the World Cup in Brazil following successful surgery on his knee. The former Atletico Madrid forward, who made a big-money move to France last year, suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury to his left knee in a French Cup encounter in January. The 28-year-old underwent surgery in Portugal at the end of last month, and following the completion of the first phase of recovery, Dr José Carlos Noronha, who operated on the player, revealed that he has a "a 55% chance of playing in the World Cup". - Full Story via Kickoff

New Monaco signing Dimitar Berbatov scored his first goal for the French club as he guided his team into the quarter-finals of the Coupe de France. The former Manchester United and Fulham striker was a deadline day addition for the big-spending Ligue 1 outfit, and after making his league debut on the weekend, came on off the bench in his side’s Cup clash with Nice on Wednesday evening. - Full Story via Kickoff

Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nabil Bentaleb has pledged his international future to Algeria despite being eligible to represent France. The 19-year-old was born in Lille and has represented France at junior level, but is eligible to play for Algeria through his parents. Bentaleb has made a positive impression in the Premier League for Tottenham Hotspur since coming into the first-team reckoning under Tim Sherwood. - Full Story via Kickoff

Napoli overcame a first-leg 3-2 deficit to power past Roma 3-0 at the San Paolo to book their place in their second Coppa Italia final in three years. Buoyed by iconic striker Diego Maradona, who won the Cup with Napoli in 1987 and was in the stands for his former side’s semi-final clash, the home side started brightly, eager to get an early goal to level the aggregate scores. - Full Story via Kickoff

Barcelona drew their second-leg semi-final clash with Real Sociedad 1-1 to ensure their passage into the final of this year’s Copa del Rey. Following their 2-0 victory in the first-leg at Camp Nou last week, the Blaugrana never looked in trouble as they dominated play and created the majority of chances in front of goal. Argentine striker Lionel Messi opened the scoring for the visitors in the 27th minutes. - Full Story via Kickoff Nigeria

Englishman Peter Butler has been appointed national team coach of Botswana, the country’s football association confirmed on Wednesday. The 47-year-old takes over from Stanley Tshosane, who was axed last October after five years at the helm that included qualifying the side for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, the first time in their history they had reached the continental finals. "I am really excited and looking forward to the challenge,” Butler told BBC Sport. "There is a huge amount of talent here. - Full Story via Kickoff

Ivorian defender Emmanuel Eboue has claimed he rejected an offer from Serie A champions Juventus before signing for Galatasaray. Eboue left Arsenal for his Turkish employers in the summer of 2011. The 30-year-old said: "When I left Arsenal in 2011 many teams were after me. Fiorentina, Roma and Juventus were all interested in signing me, but I chose to join Galatasaray. I'm delighted with my choice back then because I've been received so well here. - Full Story via Kickoff

Arsenal and Liverpool look set for a summer battle for Mathieu Valbuena after Marseille told the midfielder he can leave the club. The Premier League duo have been linked with 29-year-old Valbuena, who has reportedly told the French side he wants a new challenge for the closing years of his career. And Marseille coach Jose Anigo has revealed he would be willing to let the French international leave, in recognition of his years of service. - Full Story via Metro

FIFA head doctor Jiri Dvorak says that they plan to test all players before the opening games of the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. The plan is to set March 1 as the date when FIFA will start testing players for doping in the lead-up to the World Cup finals. Dvorak says that players and teams will not know when the drug testers will arrive and adds that nobody will be missed before the first match of the tournament on June 12. - Full Story via Kickoff

Can you smell what the Toon are cooking? World Wrestling Entertainment owner Vince McMahon apparently can, and he’s allegedly gearing up (again) for a Newcastle United takeover bid. That’s right – the WWE supremo is supposedly ‘sniffing around’ the Magpies after news reached him that Mike Ashley wants to tombstone his stake in the St James’ Park outfit. - Full Story via Metro