International News - Issue 215

Kroos Heading To Real Madrid
Toni Kroos has confirmed he will join Real Madrid after helping Germany to World Cup glory. The midfielder starred throughout in Sunday's final as Germany beat Argentina 1-0 at the Maracana to secure their fourth World Cup title. Speaking after the match, Kroos told Brazilian webesite UOL: “We’ve finished the World Cup in the best way possible. Now I’m going to Madrid, so that’s two dreams achieved." Kroos has long been linked with a departure away from Bayern Munich. The player had been pursued as a key summer signing by former Manchester United manager David Moyes, but his successor Louis van Gaal ruled out a move, saying he did not want Kroos at Old Trafford. Kroos finished the World Cup top of the assists charts with four, as well as scoring twice in the 7-1 semi-final humiliation of Brazil. The 24-year-old is thought to have agreed a five-year deal with the Champions League winners with a transfer fee in the region of £20million.

Despite failing to inspire his team to the trophy, Lionel Messi was still named Player of the Tournament at the 2014 World Cup. The Argentine superstar scored four goals to help the South Americans to the deciding match, where they lost 1-0 to Germany at the Maracana. While Messi won the Golden Ball, Germany’s Thomas Muller was awarded the Silver Ball, while Arjen Robben of Netherlands got the Bronze Ball. Colombia youngster James Rodriguez won the Golden Boot after scoring six goals in the2014 World Cup, including a contender for Goal of the Tournament in the Last 16 victory against Uruguay. German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer won the Golden Glove award, while France’s Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba was named Best Young Player.

Argentina icon Diego Maradona feels Lionel Messi did not deserve to win the Golden Ball at the 2014 World Cup. Messi, who helped La Albiceleste reach the final with four goals in the group stages, was named the tournament's top player - beating the likes of fellow attackers Thomas Muller, Arjen Robben and James Rodriguez to the accolade. Maradona, though, believes Messi was handed the prize for commercial reasons. "Messi? I would give him heaven if possible," Maradona said during a TV show. "But it's not right when someone wins something that he shouldn't have won just because of some marketing plan." Maradona went on to express his disappointment at his country's 1-0 defeat to Germany on Sunday, with Mario Gotze netting with a well-taken volley in extra-time at the Maracana. "I feel sorry for my country. Mario Gotze's goal really hurt. There's a huge sadness in my heart that we lost the Final. All things put together, I think Argentina deserved at least penalties. That Germany won was the result of a misunderstanding in the Argentine defence."

Colombian sensation James Rodriguez has expressed a strong desire to join Spanish giants Real Madrid. Rodriguez's future has become the subject of speculation on the back of his six goals at the World Cup. The 22-year-old currently plies his trade at Monaco, where he scored 10 goals for in 38 outings last term. "Now I'm enjoying a little holiday after the World Cup," Rodriguez told Marca. "I think it has been very positive for me and Colombia. Then there will be the opportunity and time to talk about the market. I'm very well in Monaco, but of course I would come to Real Madrid even with my eyes closed." Rodriguez joined Monaco in a €45-million deal from FC Porto in the summer of 2013.

Chelsea have ‘opened up talks’ with former striker Didier Drogba to bring him back to west London as a player-coach next season. According to the Mail, Blues boss Jose Mourinho wants to re-sign the 36-year-old as a second striker and will tempt him back to Stamford Bridge with an offer of also gaining coaching experience at the club. The Portuguese tactician is keen to bolster his attacking options ahead of the new Premier League campaign with Samuel Eto’o having left Chelsea and Demba Ba and Romelu Lukaku expected to depart on temporary deals. Drogba – whose contract at Turkish giants Galatasaray expired this summer – is believed to be partial to returning to the Blues next season despite lucrative offers from several Qatari sides, with some clubs ready to offer the Ivory Coast international up to £3m a year after tax.

Newcastle United are poised to complete a successful fortnight in the transfer market with the signing of Holland international full-back Daryl Janmaat from Feyenoord and striker Emmanuel Riviere from Monaco. Alan Pardew, the Newcastle manager, has already welcomed four new players to the club this summer, with Spanish striker Ayoze Perez joined by former Sunderland midfielder Jack Colback, Dutch international forward Siem De Jong and France attacking midfielder Remy Cabella. Mike Ashley, the owner, will continue to release funds for the squad to be strengthened, with the kitty augmented by the £10 million that Arsenal have agreed to pay them for right-back Mathieu Debuchy. Janmaat is expected on Tyneside for a medical after a fee of about £5 million was agreed with Feyenoord, while Moncao are willing to sell the former France Under-21 forward Riviere for around £6 million and he is also expected to be confirmed as a Newcastle player before the end of the week.

Manchester United target Arturo Vidal has hinted that he’d be open to a move to the Red Devils this summer after calling the club “one of the best teams in the world”. Recent reports have claimed that the Chile star is close to securing a £40m move from Juventus to United in the coming days – despite the Italian champions insisting that the 27-year-old is not for sale. And with rumours rife about his future, Vidal has now dropped what seems to be the biggest hint of his imminent arrival in the Premier League during an interview with Chilean publication, La Tercera. When asked about the link to United, he said: “I’ve heard the rumours, but did not speak with anyone. I am enjoying the holidays and when I return to Italy I’ll see what happens. I am very calm but we would all like to play for one of the best teams in the world.” The Chile international – who only signed a new contract with Juventus last year – will reportedly be offered £230,000-a-week to join United. His agent Fernando Felicevich negotiated a £30m move for Vidal’s compatriot, Alexis Sanchez, and could well do the same for the Juve star in the coming days.

Atletico Madrid have reportedly banished Filipe Luis to the reserves as he tries to force through a transfer to Chelsea. The left-back, targeted by the Blues as a replacement for Ashley Cole who has departed the club on a free, is believed to have told the Spanish champions he wants to join Jose Mourinho’s men. But with Chelsea yet to agree a fee with Atletico, Luis has been made to train with the club’s reserves since the return to pre-season training last week. The Blues had a £12m offer for the 28-year-old rejected earlier this summer, but despite increasing it to £15m, have yet to reach a deal. Atletico are said to be holding out for £20m for the Brazilian but Chelsea believe they can get the price to drop. In the meantime, it looks as though Luis could be in for a long summer.

Arsenal aren’t messing around in this transfer window. After snapping up Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona last week, reports now believe the Gunners have agreed a £23m deal for Sami Khedira. The German international, who cruelly missed the World Cup final after suffering an injury in the warm-up, has been a target for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger this summer. And despite reports last week suggesting Chelsea were planning to hijack the Gunners’ move for the Real Madrid man, it seems Wenger has taken the biggest step yet to securing his signature, by agreeing a £23m fee. Arsenal still have to agree personal terms with Khedira though, with the 27-year-old believed to be demanding £150,000-per-week.

Ecuador winger Enner Valencia is closing in on a move to West Ham from Mexican club Pachuca after undergoing a medical with the Premier League side on Monday. Valencia impressed for his national side at the World Cup in Brazil – scoring three goals in the competition – which resulted in several clubs, including The Hammers, Inter Milan and Newcastle, weighing up a move for the striker. But it now seems that the east London club have won the race for the 25-year-old, with the player close to finalising a deal that looks likely to be near the £15m mark. The chairman of Pachuca, Jesus Martinez, recently insisted that Valencia would not be allowed to leave the club for anything less than a Mexican record fee. If he complete the move to the Premier League in the coming days, West Ham will be hopeful that Valencia will bring his goalscoring prowess to the team after netting 18 goals in 23 appearances for Pachuca since January.

Arsenal are expecting to complete the signing of Nice goalkeeper David Ospina later this week after agreeing a £3.2million fee for his services. Ospina was strongly linked with a switch to Arsenal over the weekend, with reports saying a move was close. And now French newspaper Nice Matin says the Ligue 1 club have accepted a £3.2million bid from the Gunners, with the deal set to be done in the next few days. Arsenal have been following Ospina for the last few months but Arsene Wenger was convinced by his ability after the 25-year-old sparkled for Colombia at the World Cup. An agile shot stopper with brilliant reflexes, Ospina was available on the cheap after rejecting a new contract at Nice last season.

Adidas have signed a deal to provide kit to Manchester United for the next 10 years. The German sportswear giants will start their sponsorship from the start of the 2015/16 campaign after Nike announced it would be ending its association with the club after the new season. The deal is reportedly worth a staggering £70million a season to the Red Devils – more than three times what Nike were paying. It also far surpasses the previous kit sponsorship record of £31million-a-year deal which Adidas paid to Manchester United. Adidas, who last sponsored United in the 1991/92 season, saw their share price rise by 2.78 percent following the announcement. The next most valuable kit deals in terms of average annual value belong to Real Madrid (£31m), Chelsea (£30m), and Arsenal (£30m). Real Madrid and Chelsea are both sponsored by Adidas and Arsenal is sponsored by Puma.  £30m per year might seem like a pittance now (as much as £30m can be considered a "pittance"), but keep in mind that Chelsea received more money from a kit deal than any other club in the history of English football last season (Arsenal's new deal doesn't kick in until this season).

Spanish club Barcelona have been prevented from unveiling new signing Luis Suarez by world soccer governing body Fifa. Suarez, who is due to complete the move to the Nou Camp in the next few days, has been banned from “all football-related activity” for his bite on Giorgio Chiellini at this year’s World Cup, and thus will not be allowed to be publicly presented in the traditional manner at his new La Liga side. “The ban relates to all football-related activity,” said Fifa’s head of media Delia Fischer. “He cannot be in a football-related public event irrespective of the venue. He cannot even be involved in a football-related charity event.”

Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebeyor is suffering from a mild bout of malaria and will therefore miss the club's pre-season tour of North America. The Togo international, who is reportedly responding well to treatment, is expected to be released from hospital on Wednesday after being admitted on Saturday. Adebayor will need at least seven days to recover before returning to training. He has been advised not to travel on medical grounds. Spurs will leave for the US later this week and will play their first game against Seattle Sounders on Saturday. They then head to Canada to take on Toronto FC before concluding their tour with a match against Chicago Fire.

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has “resigned” following the country's fourth-placed finish at the World Cup. Scolari's contract was due to expire after the tournament. The 65-year-old initially said at the weekend he would leave his fate in the hands of the CBF, but it is understood he has now stepped down. Scolari's position was cast in doubt after Brazil were humiliated 7-1 by eventual champions Germany in the semi-finals last week. The Samba Boys were then beaten 3-0 by the Netherlands in the third place playoff on Saturday. Scolari, who guided Brazil to World Cup honours in 2002, supervised 19 victories in 29 games during his second spell in charge, winning the Confederations Cup - also on home soil - in 2013.

Kudakwashe Mahachi caught the eye of Radamel Falcao during his trial with French giants Monaco, according to the Mamelodi Sundowns man's agent Godwin Emmanuel. Mahachi scored in the principality club's 12-0 friendly rout of Austrian side FC Saint-Veit on Saturday. And Emmanuel says his client earned praise from Colombian superstar Falcao, who watched the match from the sidelines as he continues his recovery from injury. “He [Falcao] told Kuda that with his talent he belongs at Monaco,” Emmanuel is quoted as saying by Downs' official website.

Brazil striker Fred announced his retirement from international football a day after the Selecao's World Cup campaign ended with defeat to Netherlands in the third-place play-off. Fred, 30, has been a much-maligned figure in his homeland during the finals after a string of poor performances. The Fluminense forward, who was top scorer at last year's Confederations Cup, netted just one goal in six games, against Cameroon.

AC Milan have signed Adil Rami from Valencia on a three-year deal following his successful loan spell in the Italian capital last season. The France defender, who is believed to have cost around €4.25 million, initially joined the Rossonerri in January and went on to make 22 appearances for the Serie A giants.

Yaya Toure's agent has claimed the Ivorian has been overlooked for football's top individual prizes because of his skin colour. Dmitri Seluk believes the three-time African Footballer of the Year - who came 12th in the Ballon d'Or voting - would have won either the PFA or FWA Footballer of the Year awards this past season were he white. Luis Suarez claimed the English accolades, while Eden Hazard and Steven Gerrard came second in the PFA and FWA voting respectively, with Toure placing third in both categories. Seluk told The Times: "If he was white, 100 percent he would have won one of those top awards. I don't want to talk too much about racism or the politics of football, but he does not get the praise he should get. Yaya has three times in a row won the African Player of the Year, but it is different with the other awards. I agree with Jose Mourinho when he said that the Player of the Year should come from the team that wins the title. I have very much respect for Suarez and Gerrard, but what Yaya did from midfield, not often a player can do this. Who was the best team this year? Manchester City. Who was their best player? Toure. Gerrard is really good but Liverpool finished second in the league and Yaya is third (in the FWA vote)."

Pop star Rihanna gave everyone at the Maracana a bit more than they bargained for when the singer celebrated Germany’s World Cup win over Argentina on Sunday – by lifting her top. Mario Gotze’s extra-time strike clinched Germany’s fourth World Cup title in Rio de Janeiro, and following the full-time whistle, Rihanna decided to give the German players (and everyone else in the stadium) something to look out for when she pulled up her shirt in what we can only assume was pure ecstasy.