International News - Issue 207

Chelsea agree deal to sign Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa. Chelsea have agreed a £32m deal with Atletico Madrid for striker Diego Costa, according to Sky sources. Costa, who has played a starring role in the Spanish club's run towards a possible La Liga/Champions League double, has long been linked with a move to London, with Jose Mourinho desperate to sign a prolific striker. The deal with Costa is not expected to be formally announced until early June, after the big two games he is fighting to be fit for. - Full Story via Sky Sports

England coach Roy Hodgson has named his 23-man squad for the upcoming World Cup in Brazil. Youthful Arsenal stars Jack Wilshere and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain have made the cut despite some concerns around their fitness, while teenagers Luke Shaw (18) and Raheem Sterling (19), as well 20-year-old Ross Barkley, have been rewarded for their fine efforts this season. Veteran midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard will add experience, as will the likes of goalkeeper Joe Hart, fullback Glen Johnson and striker Wayne Rooney. The Three Lions will open their World Cup campaign against Italy on 14 June before facing fellow Group D sides Uruguay and Costa Rica.

England squad:
Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Celtic), Ben Foster (West Brom)
Defenders: Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Phil Jones (Manchster United), Phil Jagielka (Everton), Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), Luke Shaw (Southampton), Leighton Baines (Everton)
Midfielders: Steven Gerrard (Liverpool), Frank Lampard (Chelsea), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Ross Barkley (Everton), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal), Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (Arsenal), Raheem Sterling (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Southampton), James Milner (Manchester City)
Forwards: Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Danny Welbeck (Manchester United), Rickie Lambert (Southampton).

Jose Mourinho insists Fernando Torres remains in his plans for next season despite scoring just 11 goals in 41 appearances this term. The Spaniard netted the winner in Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over Cardiff, but it was his first Premier League goal since January. And with Chelsea’s strikers struggling for goals this term, speculation has mounted over the futures of Torres, Demba Ba and Samuel Eto’o. But Mourinho says Torres, at least, still has a place at Stamford Bridge. “Yes he’s in my plans [for next season]. He’s a good player,” said the Blues boss. “He’s not the kind of guy who will score goal after goal but the way he works and moves he contributes to the team. He’s a player I like.” - Full Story via Metro

Manchester United look set to begin their rebuilding process this summer with the acquisition of Southampton’s Luke Shaw, having reportedly agreed a £27m fee. The left-back, who has enjoyed a fine season for the Saints, was named in Roy Hodgson’s preliminary England squad for the World Cup. Shaw has been linked with a move away from Southampton for some weeks, with Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City among the interested parties. And reports today suggest United have won the race for the highly-rated 18-year-old, having agreed a fee with Southampton. United are set to bring in several new players before the transfer window closes in September, with centre-back Nemanja Vidic likely to be leading a mass exodus from Old Trafford. - Full Story via Metro

Andy Carroll could be forced into an embarrassing U-turn after jetting off on his summer holidays without realising he was on standby for England’s World Cup squad. The West Ham striker reportedly missed a call from Roy Hodgson informing him he was on the Three Lions reserve list, and posted a picture of himself with girlfriend Billi Mucklow on his Instagram account late on Sunday night along with the caption ‘Dubai bound’. The 25-year-old is suspected to have missed out on Hodgson’s 23-man cut, with Wayne Rooney, Danny Welbeck, Rickie Lambert and Daniel Sturridge being the preferred strikers, but may be needed should one of the quartet pick up an injury between now and the start of Brazil 2014. - Full Story via Metro

Shola Ameobi has revealed that he is 'dumbfounded' by the red-card he received on Sunday as Newcastle lost 2-1 to Liverpool in the final English Premiership game of the season. Ameobi was given the marching orders after receiving two quick yellow-cards in the 66th minute. The 32-year-old who has been listed in Nigeria's provisional squad for this summer's World Cup was first booked for dissent, but the player has stated he still does not understand the reason for the second booking. "You can't make up the way I was sent off. - Full Story via Kickoff

Bayer Leverkusen have announced the signing of Swiss striker Josip Drmic, who was thought to be on Arsenal's radar. The 21-year-old has penned a five-year contract with Leverkusen for an undisclosed fee, having scored 17 goals in 33 league games for recently-relegated Nurnberg.

Germany coach Joachim Loew has told Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil to work on his body language to become a better player. The 25-year-old looked certain to live up to his £42.5-million billing in his first few months for the Gunners after some excellent performances, but the creative midfielder lost form towards the end of 2013 and then got injured until April. Ozil was criticised for his performances in the two legs against Bayern Munich in the UEFA Champions League, where he missed a penalty in the home leg, but could still lift the FA Cup trophy on Saturday. - Full Story via Kickoff

Borussia Dortmund forward Marco Reus has ruled out a summer switch to Manchester United. Reus, who has a release clause of €35million, has been repeatedly linked with the Red Devils. However, the 24-year-old says he is staying at Signal Iduna Park for at least another season. "It's safe to say I will be playing for Borussia Dortmund also in the 2014/2015 season," Reus told Kicker-Sportmagazin. "Basically I do not need to stress all the time that I am feeling great being with the club. As far as leaving that is no issue for me, and I am not affected by it (the transfer release clause)." Reus has scored 30 goals and provided 25 assists in 62 games for Dortmund since joining BVB in 2012. He is contracted to the club until June 2017. - Full Story via Kickoff Nigeria

Argentinian legend Javier Zanetti enjoyed a victorious yet emotional final home game for Italian giants Inter Milan as he called time on an illustrious 19-year career in Italy. The 40-year-old came on as a second-half substitute in his club’s final home game of the season, helping his team earn a 4-1 win over Lazio. Zanetti, featuring in his 863rd appearance for the Nerazzurri, has been at the club since 1995, winning five Serie A titles, four Italian Cups as well as the 2010 UEFA Champions League trophy. And the Inter legend bid the San Siro an emotional farewell following his last home game. - Full Story via Kickoff

Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole has announced his retirement from international football after being over-looked for this year’s Fifa World Cup. The England defender, who has earned 107 caps for the Three Lions since making his debut 13 years ago, was informed by manager Roy Hodgson on the weekend that he was not part of the coach’s plans for Brazil. Following this, Cole made the decision to hang up his boots and retire from international football. “I got the call from Roy and agree the England team should be about the young players,” the 33-year-old was quoted as saying in the Daily Mail. - Full Story via Kickoff

The disgusting scenes from AC Milan’s clash at Atalanta have taken a new sinister twist after pictures emerged of a knife being thrown at Kevin Constant and Nigel de Jong from the stands. Serie A hit the headlines once again for the wrong reasons over the weekend, after Atalanta fans launched bananas at the Milan duo during the 2-1 victory for the home side.  However, new pictures and footage has emerged of a knife lodged in the turf where objects were raining down from the crowd, right by Constant and De Jong. - Full Story via Metro

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has been named Ligue 1 Player of the Year after netting 25 goals in 32 league appearances for the French champions. The Swede beat off competition from his team-mates Thiago Silva and Thiago Motta as well as Monaco's James Rodriguez to the award. "For the second year in a row, it is a great honour. I want to thank all the players, the coach, the staff and the supporters," Ibrahimovic told the media. "I think this has been my best season. The team have had a magnificent season. In the years to come I hope to win the league again, as well as the two cups, the Champions League and more individual trophies." - Full Story via Kickoff

Veteran defender Rio Ferdinand has confirmed he is leaving Manchester United after 12 trophy-laden years at Old Trafford. The 35-year-old, who was not offered a new contract by United, made 454 appearances for the club, scoring eight goals and winning the Champions League, six Premier League titles and two League Cups. "I have thought long and hard over the last few months about my future, and after 12 fantastic years playing, for what I regard, as the best club in the world, I have decided the time is right for me to move on," Ferdinand told his website, 5mag. "I joined Manchester United in the hope of winning trophies, and never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined how successful we would be during my time here. - Full Story via Kickoff

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho feels Edin Dzeko should have been recognised as the Premier League's top player this season, rather than Luis Suarez. Liverpool's Suarez recently received both the Professional Footballers' Association and Football Writers' Association awards after scoring 31 goals. Dzeko, meanwhile, has netted 16 times for Manchester City. Mourinho said: “My player of the year would be always from the champion, always, so if the champion is Man City. I would say a City player and if I have to choose one, I think I would choose Dzeko. - Full Story via Kickoff

Barcelona defender Dani Alves has threatened to leave the Spanish giants should there not be a “change of energy” next season. The 31-year-old revealed that he was left deeply hurt by the criticism he and his fellow teammates endured after their Champions League exit, Spanish Cup final defeat and inconsistent league form this season. "It’s very hard to get the chance to play for Barcelona and, whether people like it or not, I’m part of the history of this club," he told RAC1. "I need energy, it’s what motivates me; I’m an upbeat, happy person. I’ve always been like that, but because the results aren’t what people expect, they need someone to shoot at and I feel shot at. - Full Story via Kickoff

AC Milan forward Kaka has graciously accepted Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari’s decision not to include him in his final 23-man squad for this year’s World Cup. The 32-year-old did not make the cut, along with a number of other big names including club teammate Robinho, PSG’s Lucas Moura, Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and former World Player of the Year Ronaldinho. Yet Kaka said he was not too disappointed as he did not expect the call-up, having last featured for the Selecao in March 2013. "It's a pity, but I am not sad because I did everything I could,” he told Sky Sport Italia. "Scolari has always been consistent and made his choices. He hadn't called me recently, so it would've been a surprise to be included.” Kaka has made 35 appearances for the Rossoneri this season, contributing nine goals and five assists – his best performance since his first season in Real Madrid in 2009 – but it was not enough to earn a spot at the Mundial. Yet the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner said both he and fellow Milan forward Robinho respect the national coach’s decision. “Robinho took the decision the same way I did, we gave it our all to go to the World Cup, but Scolari made other choices,” he stated. Kaka then gave his predictions for the upcoming world showpiece, and backed Rossoneri team mate Mario Balotelli to shine on the world stage. "I think the favourites for the World Cup are Brazil, Spain and Germany, followed by Italy, Argentina, England and Portugal,” he said. “I am convinced Mario Balotelli will have a great tournament."

Brazil squad:
Goalkeepers: Jefferson (Botafogo), Julio Cesar (Toronto FC), Victor (Atletico MG)
Defenders: Dante (Bayern Munich) David Luiz (Chelsea), Henrique (Napoli), Thiago Silva (PSG) Dani Alves (Barcelona), Maicon (Roma) Marcelo (Real Madrid), Maxwell (PSG)
Midfielders: Fernandinho (Manchester City) Hernanes (Inter) Luiz Gustavo (Wolfsburg) Oscar (Chelsea) Paulinho (Tottenham Hotspur), Ramires (Chelsea), Willian (Chelsea)
Forwards: Bernard (Shakhtar Donetsk), Fred (Fluminense), Hulk (Zenit), Jo (Atletico MG), Neymar (Barcelona).

Yet another worker has lost his life working on a stadium as Brazil prepare to host next month’s Fifa World Cup. Officials in Brazil reported that 32-year-old Muhammad´Ali Maciel Afonso died in an accident while working on the new Arena Pantanal stadium in Brazil’s western city of Cuiaba. Afonso lost his life on Thursday after being electrocuted while installing communications equipment on level 20 of the unfinished stadium. This brings the total number of fatalities of workers on World Cup stadia sites to eight. - Full Story via Kickoff

West Bromwich Albion have parted company with Pepe Mel after five months as the Premier League club's manager. The 51-year-old Spaniard won just three of his 17 matches in charge as West Brom finished 17th, three points above the relegation zone. Sporting and technical director Richard Garlick said the decision took into account events "on and off the field". The West Midlands club were 14th when Mel signed an 18-month contract to succeed Steve Clarke in January. - Full Story via BBC Sport

Dutch football manager Louis van Gaal has finally broken his silence on a speculated move to Manchester United despite being a month away from the 2014 Fifa World Cup. The former Bayern Munich boss has spoken out ahead of a possible move to Old Trafford, and has revealed his desire to join The Red Devils after David Moyes was sacked on 22 April. “I would love the job,” van Gaal told the BBC. “I hope that I shall be the one. It’s the biggest club in the world and it’s a fantastic challenge,” he said during a training session with the Holland squad’s domestic based players in Hoenderloo. - Full Story via Kickoff

Jermain Defoe says he is "devastated" to be left out of England's World Cup squad. The Toronto FC striker, who has scored 19 goals in 55 appearances for his country, failed to make Roy Hodgson's 23-man unit for the Brazil-staged showpiece. He has, however, been placed on a seven-man standby list by Hodgson in case of injuries to first-choice forwards Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck and Rickie Lambert. "It's hard even to find words to describe how I am feeling," Defoe, 31, is quoted as saying by BBC Sport. "I felt I had done enough. I feel sharper than ever and I have been on form and scored goals." - Full Story via Kickoff