International News - Issue 220

United Seal Rojo Deal By Loaning Nani
Marcos Rojo has confirmed he is heading to Manchester United after the Red Devils agreed terms on a £15.9million plus Nani deal. United have been locked in negotiations with Sporting Lisbon for Rojo in the last few days, and despite rows over third party ownership, an agreement has finally been reached. Italian reports say the deal is for United to pay £15.9million while fringe winger Nani will return to former club Sporting on-loan until the end of the season. The news was confirmed by Rojo who is now preparing to fly to England to complete a medical and sign a five-year contract. “I’m living this like a dream,” he told Argentina radio. “United are a fantastic club. I spoke to Juan Veron about his opportunity and he gave me some advice. It wasn’t easy to leave Sporting.” Rojo is thought to be just the first of a number of players United are hoping to sign in the coming days, as they look to bounce back from the opening day defeat to Swansea.

Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti admits he is not certain where Angel Di Maria’s immediate future lies, amid increasing interest from Manchester United. The Argentine winger has been linked with both United and French champions Paris Saint-Germain this summer, although Laurent Blanc’s side last week admitted he may prove too expensive for them. Reports today suggested Man United are ready to spend whatever it takes to land Di Maria before the transfer window closes at the end of the month. And boss Louis van Gaal will be further encouraged by Ancelotti’s latest comments on the player’s future. “I’m not entering into the issue Di Maria, because I’ll lose focus in the game [against Atletico on Tuesday],” he said.  “I do not know what he has decided, just know that he is ready to play tomorrow, and until August 31 will be here in principle. If from there he stays or is no longer, we will think about it later.”

Chilean international and Manchester United transfer target Arturo Vidal is set to stay with current Italian champions Juventus, according to new boss Massimiliano Allegri. The 27-year-old playmaker has been rumoured to be closing in on a move to the Red Devils in recent weeks, yet the Old lady’s manager has played down his star’s exit from the Bianconeri. "I don't think he's on the market, if that's what you want to know," the former Milan tactician told Italian publication Tuttosport. "Great players are always talked about. Big clubs are only looking for great players, but Juventus are a great club. Obviously Bayern or United or Real Madrid can think about him as much as they want."

David Moyes says one of the main reasons for his failure at Manchester United is because the powers-that-be did not sign him players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. The Scot took over from Sir Alex Ferguson at the start of the 2013/14 season, but was relieved of his duties before the end of the campaign as the club finished a disastrous seventh. And Moyes, speaking for the first time since his sacking, says he was not backed during the transfer window. “It’s been well documented that we wanted [Cesc] Fabregas, Bale and Ronaldo,” he told the Daily Mail. “There was talk of Ronaldo when I first arrived. We were close to getting a couple of major names. I'm not getting in a blame game here, but things just didn’t materialise. I had taken over from the most successful manager in history. The chief executive [Ed Woodward] had taken over from one of the most renowned administrators in the game [David Gill]. So it was a new job for two people.” Moyes adds that it was ‘near impossible’ to succeed Ferguson. “It was a step into the unknown and, looking back now, it was near enough the impossible job. But it was the right job for me.”

It seems the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s reduction of Luis Suarez’s ban passed hundreds of Twitter users by. The Uruguayan was initially banned for four months from all football activity, including training and friendlies, by FIFA. But last week CAS ruled that he would be allowed to train and play in friendlies, and that he was only banned from competitive fixtures until the 26th October. Therefore Suarez was handed his Barcelona debut in tonight’s 6-0 friendly win over Mexican side Leon, in which Neymar scored two beauties. The former Liverpool man only played for 15 minutes as a substitute but he’ll have been delighted to be back on the pitch having not played since the fateful biting incident in the World Cup group stage back in June. However, it seems not everybody was paying attention as ‘How is Suarez’ ended up trending worldwide.

Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal has admitted that he needs “better players” after their disappointing start to the Premier League season with a 2-1 home defeat to Swansea on Saturday. Van Gaal reflected on his dismal start as the United boss and warned that his players need to show that they can handle the pressure of playing at Old Trafford. “It is very disappointing for the players, the fans, for me, my staff. When you have preparation time and you win everything [in pre-season] and then lose your first match; that cannot be worse. It is not good because we have built up a lot of confidence and it shall be smashed down because of this result. But we have to know it is only one game of many games and you shall not be the champion at this moment, you shall be the champion in May.” Asked whether the current United squad was good enough to win the title or whether he needed to bring in new faces, the former Netherlands manager admitted to being short at the back. That is not a question because I knew that before this game. Of course we need defenders. It is also the question if we can play like a team and if we can reach the [right] level. Today, we didn’t reach that level. When you don’t play like a team, when you miss the chances, it is very difficult because every team shall create chances against us because we are playing with a big space behind us. With Van Persie still working on his fitness, after an extended post-World Cup break, the Dutch coach said the striker could well feature in their next match against Swansea, but added that he needed to patch up a few positions before the close of the transfer window at the end of the month.  “I thought that before this match. When we were playing in the United States I saw the same. I know in what positions we need better players but I won’t discuss [how many] with you.”

Germany centre-back Per Mertesacker has announced his retirement from international football. The 29-year-old was part of a triumphant Mannschaft side that lifted the Fifa World Cup earlier last month, and despite his relative young age, the Arsenal defender felt it was the right call to make as he focuses on his club career. "The main thing for me was that I wanted to be able to decide when my international career would end after ten years myself," he said. "There is no reason to fear the future. Young players will come through. Germany are in better shape than ever before. I now want to win the Premier League title with Arsenal and make an impact in the Champions League." Mertesacker made his debut for the European giants ten years ago, massing 104 appearances for the four-time Mundial winners.

Spain international Javi Martinez has been ruled out for the rest of the year following an injury picked up in Bayern Munich’s 2-0 defeat at the hands of Borussia Dortmund in the German Super Cup on Wednesday night. The 25-year-old was stretchered off on the half-hour mark after challenging opponent Marcel Schmelzer for the ball, with later tests revealing he had torn his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL).  Initial reports reveal the Spaniard will be out for seven months, meaning he will only likely feature for the reigning German champions again next year.

Argentine ace Sergio Aguero has signed a new five-year contract with current English Premier League champions Manchester City which will see him remain at the Etihad until 2019. The 26-year-old, who joined the English club three years ago from La Liga outfit Atletico Madrid, has been a key figure in the City line-up, scoring 75 goals in 122 appearances for the Citizens, his most memorable being the late winner two years ago which handed the club their first League title in 44 years. “This club is special; the fans, the stadium, the staff, the atmosphere, the new facility we’re moving into – everything! We have enjoyed lots of success and some incredible moments but the overall vision for the future and where we are going are the reasons why I wanted to stay here, to win trophies and to keep making history through my best years.” Aguero joins a host of club stars who recently extended their contracts with the English champions, including Davis Silva, Samir Nasri, Aleksandar Kolarov and captain Vincent Kompany.

Liverpool are continuing to hold talks with Radamel Falcao’s agents over a big money switch to Anfield from French club Monaco. Falcao is Liverpool’s number one transfer target this summer as manager Brendan Rodgers looks to replace the goals lost by Luis Suarez’s exit to Barcelona. And despite already having one bid to land the Colombian striker knocked back, the Daily Mail says the Reds are still hopeful of doing business. The newspaper says Liverpool remain in touch with Falcao’s representatives and are still pushing to do business. Real Madrid and Juventus are both offering competition to sign the player but they would prefer a loan switch, and must trim down their squads first. Liverpool have PSG striker Edinson Cavani and former Chelsea man Samuel Eto’o on their list of alternatives if a deal can’t be agreed for Falcao.

Denmark striker Nicklas Bendtner has completed a switch to Bundesliga club Wolfsburg on a free transfer from Premier League side Arsenal. The 26-year-old penned a three-year deal with the German outfit, having spent a decade at the Emirates after joining the Gunners as a teenager in 2004. Bendtner never quite reached his maximum potential in London, enduring loan spells at Birmingham, Juventus and Sunderland, and totalled 47 goals in 171 games under Arsene Wenger. The Bundesliga club were well-pleased with their newest acquisition, and believe he still has the ability to help his new team achieve success in the coming year. Bendtner will hope to be in action on the first matchday of the new season as Wolfsburg face reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

Ghanaian winger Christian Atsu has signed a season-long loan with Premier League outfit Everton. The 22-year-old, who is currently on the books of London club Chelsea, spent last season on loan in the Eredivisie with Vitesse Arnhem, and after not falling into Jose Mourinho’s plans at Stamford Bridge this season, was sent out on another loan spell, this time at Goodison Park. This will be Atsu’s first stint in England, and the former Porto player revealed his delight at being able finally ply his trade in the Premier League. He's a player who fits in with the culture and the way we want to play,” said the Spanish coach. Atsu was part of the Black Stars squad that featured at the Fifa World Cup in Brazil this year. He has featured for his country on 24 occasions, scoring 5 goals.

New Paris Saint-Germain signing David Luiz believes former side Chelsea will miss him in the upcoming season. The Brazilian defender penned a five-year, £50-million deal with the Ligue 1 champions prior to this year’s Fifa World Cup, and believes he will be an asset to his new side, while believing he will be sorely missed in London. "I have to believe that Chelsea or any team will miss me," Luiz told The Sun. "I'm not arrogant but I'm confident in my own abilities. Paris paid a lot for me so they obviously believe in me. It is nice to be at a club where they really want you and where they show belief in you.”  Luiz’s comments come after Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho stated the club are stronger without the Selecao vice-captain.

Atletico Madrid confirmed their ninth signing of the season after securing the services of Mexican striker Raul Jimenez. The 23-year-old arrives from Club America on a six-year deal, believed to be worth around €10 million (R141 million). Atletico sporting director Jose Luis Perez Caminero was thrilled with the club’s latest acquisition. “JimĂ©nez is a player with tremendous projection and he will complete our offensive line,” he told the club’s official website. “He’s very eager to succeed in his leap to European football and his enthusiasm will make him adapt quickly to our League. He stands out in the air game, he protects the ball perfectly to await the arrival of his teammates and has a very powerful shot. “He will provide us with interesting alternatives to meet our objectives this season.” The Mexican international, who was part of the El Tri squad that reached the Last 16 of this year’s Fifa World Cup, will most likely be used as back-up for Mario Mandzukic, who was brought in from Bayern Munich to replace the out-going Diego Costa, who has since joined Chelsea. The reigning La Liga champions have flexed their financial muscles in the transfer window, bringing in the likes of Brazilian left-back Guillherme Siqueira, French international Antoine Griezmann and Croatian frontman Mario Mandzukic as they aim to remain competitive alongside Spanish heavyweights Real Madrid and Barcelona this season.

French winger Franck Ribery has announced his retirement from international football. The 31-year-old made his debut in 2006, but missed out on the 2014 World Cup after suffering a recurrence of an old back problem just before the tournament kicked off. “I find that this is the moment,” the Bayern Munich man told Kicker. “I want to dedicate myself more to my family and concentrate on the tasks at Bayern, and also leave a place in the national team for the many great young players. One has to know when to stop. I've seen so much; now it is time for others to move forward. There were ups and downs, but now the time has come for a new chapter in my life.” Ribery won 82 caps for his country, scoring 16 goals in the process.

Former Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino has been appointed as new coach of World Cup runners up Argentina. The 51-year-old replaces former tactician Alejandro Sabella who left the Albiceleste following their 1-0 defeat at the hands of Germany in the final of this year’s World Cup in Brazil. This will be Martino’s second stint at the helm of a national team, following his five-year tenure in charge of South American rivals Paraguay. The Argentine was appointed as Barcelona boss in 2013, winning 40 of his 59 games in charge, but failed to deliver any silverware at the Camp Nou last season.

Liverpool have agreed to sign left-back Alberto Moreno for £12m from Sevilla. The Reds have been tracking the Spain U-21 international throughout the summer. He is the Reds manager Brendan Rodgers' eighth new signing. The others are: Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Rickie Lambert, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic, Javier Manquillo and Divock Origi, with the latter returning to Lille on loan for the 2014/15 season.

CAF have announced the disqualification of Rwanda from the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. Rwanda were in Group A along with South Africa, Nigeria and Sudan, but will now be replaced by Congo, whom they had defeated in the second round of qualifying. Congo had lodged a complaint over the eligibility of Birori Dady, and CAF have found enough evidence to now disqualify Rwanda. A statement read: “The protest by Congo contested the eligibility of the player Birori Dady aligned with Rwanda, and plays for the AS Vita Club of Kinshasa with Congolese (DRC) passport as Etekiama Agiti Tady, and a different age. Following investigations by CAF and on the basis of documents provided by the federations of Rwanda, Congo and DR Congo, and hearing the player's testimony on 11 August 2014 at CAF headquarters in Cairo, CAF established that the two identities only referred to a single person. While the Rwandan Football Federation (FERWAFA) maintained that to their knowledge the player Dady Birori had one identity, investigations revealed that he was summoned as Etekiama Agiti Tady by FERWAFA to join the national team of Rwanda.”