International News - Issue 213

Liverpool Sign Lallana
Liverpool have taken their summer spending to the £40m mark after completing the signing of Adam Lallana from Southampton. The 26-year-old travelled to Merseyside to discuss personal terms and undergo a medical on Friday after Southampton accepted Liverpool’s final £25m offer for their club captain. Bournemouth, where Lallana played until he was 12, will bank around £6.25m from the midfielder’s transfer as they were due 25% of any future sell-on fee. Lallana becomes Liverpool’s third signing of what promises to be a hectic summer, irrespective of Luis Suárez’s future, following the £4.5m capture of former Southampton striker Rickie Lambert and a £9.85m deal for Emre Can. The Bayer Leverkusen midfielder will formally complete his move to Anfield later on Tuesday after the transfer window officially opened. Lallana spent 14 years at Southampton, rising through to the Premier League from League One, and admits becoming a full England international and now moving to Anfield has not sunk in.

Luis Suarez has finally admitted he bit Italian defender Giorgio Chiellini and apologised for the conduct that led to his banishment from the World Cup. The Uruguayan and Liverpool striker has appealed a four-month ban from football following the incident in his country’s final group game and this is the first show of contrition for his behaviour. In a statement released via his Twitter page, Suarez said: “After several days being home with my family. I have had the opportunity to regain my calm and reflect on the reality of what occurred on during the Italy-Uruguay match. Independent from the fallout and contradicting declarations that have surfaced during these past few days, all of which have been without the intention of interfering with the good performance of my national team, the truth is my colleague Giorgio Chiellini suffered the physical result of a bite in the collision he suffered with me. For this I deeply regret what occurred, apologise to Giorgio Chiellini and the entire football family and I vow to the public there will never be another incident like it.” Chiellini responded to Suárez within minutes on Twitter, accepting the apology. “It’s all forgotten,” the Italian wrote. “I hope Fifa will reduce your suspension.” The tone of Suarez’s apology is a significant departure, with Suarez initially denying he had bitten the Italian and his supporters claiming he was the victim of a conspiracy. With the Uruguay FA currently attempting to have the Fifa punishment significantly reduced - at the very least - Suarez’s admission may be an effort to soften the tough stance from the authorities. Suarez’s ban will see him miss Liverpool’s first nine matches and next year’s Copa America with Uruguay.

Luke Shaw has completed a £30 million transfer to Manchester United from Southampton, in the process becoming the world’s most expensive teenager. Shaw signed a four-year deal worth £100,000 a week after United fought off late interest from Chelsea to seal their second signing of the Louis van Gaal era. The 18-year-old’s move to Old Trafford has been on the cards since the end of last season, but negotiations became advanced after England’s early exit from the World Cup. Southampton had rejected United’s initial bid of around £27 million but accepted Shaw’s sale when it became clear he wanted to leave. The fee will rise to £31 million on appearances, while United also have an option on his contract for a fifth year.

Colombian star James Rodriguez has put Spanish giants Real Madrid on red alert after talking up a possible move to the Spanish La Liga. The 22-year-old’s sensational World Cup campaign continued as he scored a brace in his side’s 2-0 win over Uruguay on Saturday, including a spectacular long-range effort which is surely a contender for goal of the tournament, as he leads the goal-scoring charts with five goals. Speaking to Spanish radio station Cadena Cope after the game, the highly-rated Monaco forward revealed his desire to play in Spain’s top-flight. "I would love to play in Spain," said Rodriguez. "It would be a dream to play there as we are talking about the best league in the world." With La Liga giants Real Madrid or Barcelona the likely destinations, Rodriguez hinted at his preferred option. "I prefer Real Madrid to Barcelona," he revealed.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid are reportedly on the verge of signing German midfielder Toni Kroos from German club Bayern Munich. The Manchester United target has reportedly agreed a five-year deal with the Galacticos in a fee in the region of €25-30 million (R362-R434 million), as reported by Spanish publication Marca, after the 24-year-old’s agent was seen exiting a meeting at the Bernabeu. Kroos currently has one year left on his contract with the Budesliga champions, who were reluctant to let go of their star midfielder. Yet Bayern have now allegedly agreed on the move to prevent Kroos from leaving on a free next year and so cash in on the talented youngster.

Premier League champions Manchester City have completed the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fernando form Portuguese outfit FC Porto. “City are delighted to announce the signing of Brazilian midfielder Fernando,” read a statement on the club’s official website. “The 26-year-old will join the Club from Porto and will wear the number six shirt next season.” Details of Fernando’s contract have not yet been disclosed, yet it is believed a fee in the region of £12million (R216 million) was agreed. The defensive midfielder, who came through the ranks at Brazilian club Vila Nova, joined Porto in 2007, winning four league titles, two Portuguese Cups as well as the UEFA Europa League.

Arsenal are pressing ahead with an £11m move for Newcastle right-back Mathieu Debuchy. Manager Arsene Wenger is after a new right-back following the departure of Bacary Sagna to Manchester City. And Debuchy, currently with France at the World Cup, is emerging as the leading candidate to replace his countryman in the Gunners back-four next season. Newcastle have been made aware of Arsenal's interest in the full-back and are ready to listen to offers for the Frenchman. However, a deal is unlikely to be concluded until after France's World Cup participation is over. Arsenal have also opened talks with Anderlecht over exciting young striker David Henen.

Chelsea have finally announced an agreement with Atletico Madrid for Diego Costa, with the club paying all of his massive £32million buy-out clause. Blues boss Jose Mourinho will be hoping that Costa is the solution to the goalscoring problems the team suffered last season, where Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and Demba Ba all failed to become regular marksmen. However, having spent big money on strikers in the past, it’s not always worked out, and with Costa arriving on the back of a dreadful World Cup – it remains to be seen whether Costa is really the right man for Chelsea.

Barcelona have received offers for Arsenal and Liverpool transfer target Alexis Sanchez and could let the winger leave this summer. Sanchez, who is now on holiday after playing for Chile at the World Cup, is expected to leave Barca this summer, with new manager Luis Enrique reportedly not including him in his plans. Arsenal and Liverpool have both been strongly linked with £27million offers, and now Barca chief Andoni Zubizarreta admits there have been official bids for the former Udinese man. “Regarding the future of Alexis Sanchez, there have been offers for the player,” said Zubizarreta. “I do not know how it will all end – we are looking for a solution which will be best for everyone.” Sanchez’s agent is doing all he can to get his client a move to the Premier League, telling Sport newspaper this week that the 25-year-old “would love to play in England”.

Yaya Toure has played yet another race card in the aftermath of Ivory Coast’s World Cup exit. The Manchester City midfielder, who previously claimed he would’ve been recognised as World Player of the Year had he not been African, has now attributed the lack of attention his country’s elimination from Brazil 2014 has been getting in the media down to race. “I desperately wanted the referee to spot the simulation of Samaras,” Toure told France Football. “Once again, the refereeing was not on our side. We had at least two penalties turned down during our game against Japan. And this time, one is invented against Greece. Of course, it does not upset anyone because it only concerns an African team. Who really cares about the injustices of an African team? This mistake deprives us of something huge. It is a scandal that unfortunately does not seem to bother many people.” Toure is set for crunch talks with City over his future with the Premier League champions after he accused them of not celebrating his birthday, and refusing his request to see his dying brother.

Southampton have wasted no time in their attempts to sign a replacement for Adam Lallana after agreeing a fee with FC Twente left-winger Dusan Tadic. The 25-year-old has spent two seasons at the Enschede-based outfit, scoring 28 goals in 66 appearances since moving to the club from Eredivisie rivals Groningen. There are no details regarding a fee for the Serbia international who has scored six goals in 25 appearances for his country. Tadic has been earmarked by Southampton’s new manager Ronald Koeman as a replacement for Lallana, who completed his move to Liverpool earlier on Tuesday.

It’s a far cry from the heights of the World Cup to England’s second tier, and the gap must seem especially huge to poor old Leeds United at the moment, after players have been told to bring their own lunch to training and wash their own kit. The former Champions League semi-finalists have hit tough times in recent years, as they dropped from being one of Europe’s elite to League One. And it doesn’t appear things are about to get much better, despite coming under new ownership this year. In fact, things have reportedly become so bad at Elland Road, the kitchen at the club’s training ground has been shut with players told they must bring their own packed lunch, and also take their own training kit home to wash. It’s more reminiscent of Sunday league than a professional outfit, but at least Leeds have offered to wash the matchday kit – as long as the players pay for the privilege.

German defender Shkodran Mustafi has been ruled out of the rest of this year’s World Cup after picking up an injury in his side’s 2-1 win over Algeria on Monday. The Sampdoria centre-back, who had come into the side to replace regular defender Mats Hummels who was suffering with flu, was stretchered off in the 70th minute of the game. Tests later revealed the 22-year-old had torn muscle fibres in his left thigh, which will see him take no further part in this year’s Mundial. Meanwhile, Low confirmed that no serious injury had been sustained by star midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, who was taken off after suffering from cramp in extra time.

African nation Cameroon are set to investigate alleged match-fixing claims involving seven of their players who participated in this year’s FIFA World Cup. The Indomitable Lions were dumped out of the group stages of this year’s tournament after three successive defeats in Group A, yet the country’s football federation is set to look into possible fraudulent activity in their World Cup campaign, particularly their 4-0 loss to Croatia. Fecafoot, the Cameroonian football association, released a statement saying the player’s actions on the field do not reflect the principles of their federation, who will investigate any irregular activity which took place in Brazil. The claims come after convicted fraudster Wilson Raj Perumal correctly predicted the result in Cameroon’s 4-0 loss to Croatia, as well as accurately forecasting the fact that a player would be sent off in the first half. Midfielder Alex Song was given his marching orders for unnecessary elbowing Croatia’s Mario Mandukic in the match, while defender Benoit Assou-Ekotto bizarrely attempted to head-butt team mate Benjamin Moukandjo in the closing stages of the controversial encounter.

Italian manager Giovanni Trapattoni is set to become the new manager of African giants Ivory Coast. The 75-year-old confirmed on Italian radio that he will take over at the helm of the Elephants following Sabri Lamouchi’s resignation after failing to guide the nation into the knockout stages of this year’s World Cup. "I'm going to become the new Ivory Coast coach; everything will be official in a couple of weeks," Trapattoni told Rai Radio 2. The experienced tactician revealed he also received an offer from African rivals Morocco, but chose the Ivory Coast instead, before complimenting all-time leading Ivorian goal-scorer Didier Drogba. Trapattoni has been out of work since leaving his post as the manager of the Republic of Ireland last year, having been in charge of the European country since 2008. The decorated coach has a glittering CV, having managed the likes of Inter and AC Milan, Bayern Munich, Benfica and Salzburg, winning the domestic League title in four different countries as manager.

Holland will be without Nigel de Jong for the rest of the World Cup through injury. The 29-year-old was forced off nine minutes into the Oranje’s last-16 clash against Mexico on Sunday with a groin complaint. Holland’s coach, Louis van Gaal, admitted after the last-gasp 2-1 win that De Jong was a doubt for their quarter-final clash against Costa Rica and the Dutch FA has confirmed the midfielder’s tournament is over. Van Gaal had described De Jong’s expected absence from Saturday’s quarter-final as a “big setback” so the full severity of the injury will be an even bigger blow.

Dutch winger Arjen Robben admitted he dived to try and get a penalty in the first half of their World Cup second round tie with Mexico – but insisted the spot-kick he won in injury time was legitimate. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar netted from the spot to snatch a 2-1 win after Rafael Marquez brought down the Bayern Munich player in the area, ensuring victory for the Dutch after Wesley Sneijder had earlier scored to cancel out Giovani Dos Santos’s goal for Mexico. Earlier, Robben – who has a reputation for diving – had gone down theatrically but referee Pedro Proenca remained unconvinced. In stoppage time, however, the official pointed to the spot and it was the Dutch who avoided extra time and sealed their place in the last eight, against Costa Rica or Greece. “In the first half I made a dive. That was a stupid action, I should not have done it,” Robben said afterwards.

Manchester United fans have been left cursing what might have been after reports surfaced that the club turned down the chance to sign Colombian sensation James Rodriguez for just £5 million in order to bring in super-flop Bebe. The Red Devils were offered the playmaker through South American intermediaries when Rodriguez was just a promising teenager, but, according to the Guardian, Sir Alex Ferguson ignored their advances. Instead, United scouts identified unknown Vitoria Guimaraes striker Bebe, and Ferguson signed the Portuguese forward for £7.8m less than five weeks after the Rodriguez deal was proposed to Old Trafford. Bebe has made just two league appearances to date for United, and has spent the last three seasons farmed out on loan. Rodriguez, who was establishing himself with Banfield in Argentina at the time he was offered to United, was eventually snapped up by Andre Villas-Boas in 2010 for just £4m, and signed for Monaco last season in a whopping £38.5m deal before going on to star in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil. Does that top David Moyes’ appointment as Ferguson’s worst ever decision as United boss?

AC Milan have confirmed they have parted ways with Kaka, who is reportedly set to join Sao Paulo on loan prior to switching to Orlando City in 2015. "AC Milan announce that they have today terminated the contract of Kaka by mutual agreement," a club statement read. The 32-year-old, who reunited with Milan last summer after four years at Real Madrid, is poised to return to Sao Paulo on a six-month deal, according to the Brazilian side's vice-president Ataide Gil Guerreiro. Kaka will then head to the United States to compete in the MLS.

Inter Milan have appointed club great Javier Zanetti as their vice-president on a two-year deal, while they have also retired the No.4 jersey in honour of the Argentinian. Zanetti, 40, called time on his decorated playing career in May having spent 19 years with the Serie A giants. He won five league titles, four Coppa Italias, a Champions League title and a Club World Cup. "Zanetti will be the vice-president for two years," Inter president Erick Thohir told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "The board has decided to retire his No.4 jersey too." Thohir then revealed the Nerazzurri aim to soon renew the contract of coach Walter Mazzarri. "Mazzarri? We hope to announce the renewal of his contract soon. It is right to give him two full years in charge."

Joseph Yobo has called time on his international career after becoming the first Nigerian to reach 100 caps. The defender marked his final game with a stirring performance in defence, blotted only by a late own goal in a 2-0 loss to France in the World Cup round of 16 fixture. Yobo made his debut aged 20 in an African Nations Cup qualifier against Zambia in Chingola in 2001. The Super Eagles drew 1-1. During an international career which has spanned 13 years, Yobo scored seven goals. During this period, he has also won Africa Cup of Nations gold (2013) and bronze medals (2002, 2004, 2006 and 2010) and played in three FIFA World Cup finals (2002, 2010 and 2014). Monday's game was his 10th Fifa World Cup match, more than Jay Jay Okocha and Nwankwo Kanu – the only other Nigerian players to have featured in three Fifa World Cup finals.

Stephen Keshi is stepping down as Nigeria coach after his team were beaten 0-2 by France in the World Cup round of 16. With his current contract running out this month, the former Nigeria captain said he had not received any offer of a new contract from the federation and did not expect to. He also informed his players in the dressing room after the game that he would not be carrying on, and thanked each player for their contributions.

Frank Lampard will play for Manchester City's A-League side Melbourne City in Australia next season, ahead of his move to the Etihad club's Major League Soccer franchise New York City FC. Following confirmation of his departure from Chelsea last month, Lampard will join David Villa in Oz for the start of the A-League season in October before the pair move to the MLS next spring, when New York City will begin play. A deal has been agreed and an announcement is set to be made soon. Lampard, Chelsea’s all-time top goalscorer, agreed his move to New York City FC at the end of May around the same time as Villa did. The Big Apple club, however, do not kick off their debut campaign until March and Lampard has always maintained he has no intention of playing for another Premier League club against Chelsea. Both New York City and Melbourne City - previously known as Melbourne Heart - are owned by Man City supremo Sheik Mansour.