International News - Issue 209

PSG Sign Luiz For £50m
Paris Saint-Germain are expected to complete a deal for David Luiz before the World Cup after agreeing a fee understood to be about £50m with Chelsea for the transfer of the Brazilian. The deal, which will be a world record for a defender, remains subject to a medical and personal terms, but the player wrote on Twitter: “Tks CFC for this time of great partnership. I’m thankful for all! It’s a new challenge and together we’ll go even further. Allez Paris!” The French champions expect the formalities to be completed on 10 June, when the transfer market reopens. PSG said in a statement: “We have reached an agreement on the conditions for a future transfer of the Brazilian international defender.” Barcelona and Bayern Munich were reportedly also pursuing the Brazilian, who has spent three and a half seasons at Stamford Bridge. The 27-year-old joined from Benfica in January 2011, signing a five-and-a-half-year contract in a deal reportedly worth £21m, so the move represents a healthy profit for Chelsea. Jose Mourinho will hope to reinvest the funds in his squad, with the Atletico Madrid striker Diego Costa still his top target. David Luiz made 143 appearances for Chelsea – 34 of them in the season just finished, including against PSG in the Champions League quarter-finals – scoring 12 goals. He was primarily used in defensive midfield by Mourinho after being unable to break up the central defensive partnership of John Terry and Gary Cahill. Tomas Kalas will be given further first-team opportunities at Chelsea next season, and Kurt Zouma, signed from Saint-Etienne in January and immediately loaned back to the French side, will also play a part. There is still a prospect of further high-profile departures from Stamford Bridge, following the publication of the Premier League’s retained and released players’ list. The club’s record goalscorer, Frank Lampard, who is 36 in June, Samuel Eto’o and Ashley Cole were on Chelsea’s list, as their contracts expire on 30 June.

Thibaut Courtois, Atletico Madrid’s goalkeeper who is on loan from Chelsea, admits he has “no emotional attachment” to the London club. The Belgian signed for Chelsea in 2011 on a five-year deal but was immediately loaned to the Spanish side where he has stood out as one of the best keepers in La Liga ever since and helped his side win the title this term as well as reach Saturday’s Champions League final. The 22-year-old may return to Stamford Bridge next season but faces competition from long-term No1 Petr Cech and admits he has only been to London once. “The fans and my team-mates have not seen me as a player being on loan there,” he told Sport-Bild. “I have no emotional attachment to Chelsea. They did sign me for €9m in 2011 but since then I have only been in London for my medical. Chelsea didn’t want to loan me out last summer either. But I wanted to stay in Madrid. And this summer it will go on again and it will be even harder to find a solution.”

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers has been rewarded for a successful season on Merseyside by signing a new long-term contract with the Reds. Liverpool owners Fenway Sports Group made the announcement on the club’s official website, confirming that Rodgers has signed what is believed to be a four-year deal which will keep him at Anfield until 2018.

Real Madrid won their 10th European Cup after beating Atletico Madrid 4-1 after extra time in the UEFA Champions League Final. The match in Lisbon ended 1-1 after regular time. Diego Godin put Atletico in front but Sergio Ramos got a stoppage-time equaliser to send the match into extra-time, when Gareth Bale, Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo all added to the scoreline.

Galatasaray boss Roberto Mancini believes Juventus would be doing good business if they signed Ivorian hitman Didier Drogba. Drogba has been linked with a move to Turin after helping Gala to the Super Lig title and the Turkish Cup in an 18-month spell with the Istanbul giants. The 36-year-old's contract at Turk Telekom Arena will expire this summer. "If Juventus were to take Drogba, it would be a great signing," Mancini said. "He'd be an important reinforcement, very useful, particularly in order to have an assault on the Champions League. Drogba can give you a lot from this point of view. I've trained Drogba this season and it was a pleasure to do so. He's a great champion. I can tell you that I was amazed by Drogba - he's a great person. He always behaved well with me, from the first minute to until the last. His contribution was never limited to the pitch alone. If anyone thinks he is not as motivated as before due to his age, they're wrong. After all these months I can confirm that he's decent, driven and humble. He can't play 50 games a year, of course. Time passes for everyone, even him. But even when he's not 100 per cent, he's still devastating to opponents.

Manchester United fullback Patrice Evra has signed a new one-year contract with the club. The Frenchman's previous deal was set to expire next week. A tweet from United's official Twitter account read: "We can confirm that Patrice Evra has extended his contract at #mufc for another year." The 33-year-old, who was rumoured to be on the radar of Juventus, joined the Red Devils from Monaco in 2006. He has scored 10 goals in 379 appearances for the English giants.

Manchester United will not sign Bayern Munich midfielder Toni Kroos according to reports. The Mirror reports that new United boss Louis van Gaal has ended the clubs pursuit of the German international. Van Gaal is said to have told United chief executive Ed Woodward that he doesn’t want Kroos. The new United boss wants to buy his own players and not chase former club manager David Moyes' targets and has drawn up his own list targets instead. AS Roma midfielder Kevin Strootman and Barcelona man Cesc Fabregas are both on that list according to The Mirror.

Tottenham are pressing ahead with plans to appoint Mauricio Pochettino as their next manager. And the White Hart Lane club are growing increasingly confident they can announce Pochettino as Tim Sherwood's replacement by the end of week. Spurs have privately expressed to Southampton their interest in the Argentine and work towards appointing the manager has been ongoing behind the scenes for a fortnight. Talks are at an advanced stage, and barring a last-minute collapse in the deal, Pochettino should be installed as new White Hart Lane chief in the coming days. Pochettino has forged a reputation as one of the English Premier League’s most-promising managers since his arrival in 2013. And he is now set to be handed the task of firing Tottenham back into the Champions League.

Borussia Dortmund midfielder Marco Reus has been named Bundesliga Player of the Season by his fellow players in Germany's top flight. Reus, 24, won ahead of teammate Robert Lewandowski and Bayern Munich's Arjen Robben, Philipp Lahm and Thiago Alcantara, while Manuel Neuer is named Keeper of the Season. Two hundred-and-twenty Bundesliga footballers took part in the traditional voting in kicker magazine. 45.6 percent of them placed Reus in top spot after the Germany international excelled in the final third of the season, when BVB coach Juergen Klopp played him in a more central role in midfield. Coming back from a minor injury, Reus scored eight of his 16 Bundesliga goals in that time and set up a further five, lifting his assist total to 14. The impressive run-in not only earned him the prestigious title, but also sparked rumours of a possible transfer. But Reus, who reportedly has a 35 million euros buy-out clause to be activated in 2015 in his contract until 2017, has reiterated several times that he is happy at Dortmund and currently not thinks about leaving his hometown club. Bundesliga top scorer Lewandowski finished second with 17.7 percent of the vote, having impressed for Dortmund despite his impending free transfer to Bayern this summer. Bayern trio Robben, Lahm and Thiago finished on ranks three to five, with last year's winner Franck Ribery only receiving six votes in total. Neuer topped the goalkeeper ranking with 27.5 percent. The Germany international defended his title from the previous years, but Leverkusen's Bernd Leno came close with 22.5 percent of the vote.

Brazil’s preparations for this year’s World Cup in their home country got off to an unruly start as hundreds of protesters surrounded the team bus on the way to their first training session. The protests started outside the team’s hotel in Rio de Janeiro where coach Luiz Felipe Scolari had just met his squad on Monday. The hostile crowd, consisting mainly of striking teachers, covered the bus in stickers with messages protesting against next month’s tournament. One of the banners read “There will not be a cup” while the crowd chanted "There will be no World Cup, there will be a strike”. The demonstrators then hammered the sides of the team bus as it pulled off to the Selecao training ground, where they were greeted by further protesters. Teachers in the country have been on strike since 12 May, demanding better pay and working conditions, while there is widespread anger against the hosting of the tournament by numerous citizens who live in dire poverty. There is increasing concern over security at the world showpiece, which kicks off in just 16 days, as well as the country’s readiness to host the event, with three of the stadiums yet to be fully completed. Brazil legend and Fifa World Cup ambassador Ronaldo voiced his personal concern and embarrassment over the situation in his country. “In 2007 when they decided that the World Cup would be in Brazil, President Lula signed everything and agreed to everything and then they get here and there’s this bureaucracy, total confusion and lateness,” he said. “It’s a shame. I am embarrassed, this is my country and I love it and we shouldn’t be transmitting this image abroad. But we mustn’t forget that Brazil wasn’t perfect before the World Cup. It was the same or worse.” A total of 157 000 soldiers and police have been deployed to beef up security around the country, with an estimated 300 000 visitors expected in the country for the global event.

Luka Modric is one of the most recognisable footballers in the world, with his long, flowing hair making him a real stand out. But the former Tottenham star, now at Real Madrid, has amazingly decided to ditch his lengthy hairstyle – for a more manageable cut. The Croatian star opted to get his haircut after helping guide Madrid to the Champions League final victory over Atletico Madrid. Modric then popped out the next morning to get the major trim, before re-joining his side for trophy winning celebrations.

Luis Suarez remains a major doubt for the World Cup in Brazil even though Uruguay say the Liverpool striker’s knee operation has been a success. The South Americans are refusing to rule their all-time leading goalscorer out of the tournament in the wake of last Thursday’s keyhole surgery to repair damage to the meniscus in his left knee. However, despite saying Suarez was ‘very positive’ and ‘painless’, team doctor Albert Pan admitted he did not know how long his rehabilitation would take. “We can happily say that Luis’ participation in the World Cup is not ruled out,” said Pan. It is very risky to give exact dates. We cannot have absolute certainty or clear numbers but the postoperative period has been very good. Luis is not ruled out but you cannot talk about specific times.” Uruguay play Costa Rica on June 14 before facing England in Sao Paulo five days later. Suarez will continue his rehabilitation away from the main squad and national team coach Oscar Washington Tabarez said they would not rush him back.

A last-minute goal from Bobby Zamora sent Queens Park Rangers back to the Barclays Premier League at the first attempt as they beat Derby County 1-0 in the Championship play-off final at Wembley. With their first shot on target in the 90th minute, the 33-year-old forward, who also fired West Ham United into the Premier League with the only goal in the 2005 play-off final, struck for 10-man QPR. Derby dominated the first half but could not convert it to goals. Craig Forsyth headed a cross from Jamie Ward wide and Will Hughes shot over from the edge of the penalty area. QPR join the champions of the Championship, Leicester City, and Burnley in getting promoted to the Premier League.