International News - Issue 244

Chelsea Sign Cuadrado As Schurrle Join Wolfsburg
Chelsea have emerged from a week of complicated negotiations by signing the Colombia winger Juan Cuadrado from Fiorentina for a fee that could rise to £26.8m, the largest outlay by a Premier League club on transfer deadline day. Cuadrado’s arrival on a four-and-a-half-year contract was confirmed as the clock ticked towards Monday’s 11pm transfer deadline, with Mohamed Salah going the other way on a six-month loan as part of the deal. Yet the signing was effectively financed by the £24m sale of Andre Schurrle to Wolfsburg after 18 months at Stamford Bridge, a deal pushed through by the Bundesliga side just before the early evening cut-off in Germany. Whereas the World Cup winner had become a bit-part player, making only five Premier League starts this season, Cuadrado will expect to play an integral part in a Chelsea team who lead the Premier League by five points and face a Champions League knockout tie with Paris Saint-Germain in two weeks’ time. The 26-year-old is eligible to play in that competition and, once clearance has been granted, should be involved in the squad for Saturday’s trip to Aston Villa. Cuadrado, who has 37 caps, had spent more than five years in Italy, with Udinese and on loan at Lecce before joining Fiorentina, and was a key player in Colombia’s fine showing in the 2014 World Cup. He contributed four assists and scored against Japan during a run to the quarter-finals where Colombia lost 2-1 to Brazil. He will provide Chelsea with options in central attacking positions and from wide.

After a busy, but not hectic, month since the transfer window re-opened and has now closed, there’s been a steady stream of business from English Premier League sides.
EPL Major Deadline Day Deals
00:10 - Dame N'Doye [Lokomotiv Moscow - Hull] Undisclosed
23:51 - Stuart Armstrong [Dundee United - Celtic] Undisclosed
23:51 - Gary Mackay-Steven [Dundee United - Celtic] Undisclosed
23:38 - Darren Fletcher [Man Utd - West Brom] Free
23:15 - Dele Alli [MK Dons - Tottenham] Undisclosed (in the region of £5m); Alli loaned back to MK Dons until end of season
23:01 - Ryan Bertrand [Chelsea - Southampton] Undisclosed
22:40 - Wilfried Zaha [Manchester United - Crystal Palace] Undisclosed
22:33 - Aaron Lennon [Tottenham - Everton] Loan
22:33 - Lee Chung-yong [Bolton - Crystal Palace] Undisclosed
21:42 - Mohamed Salah [Chelsea - Fiorentina] Loan
19:45 - Filip Djuricic [Benfica - Southampton] Loan
18:38 - Juan Cuadrado [Fiorentina - Chelsea] £23.3m
17:31 - Andre Schurrle [Chelsea - Wolfsburg] £22m
12:02 - Robert Huth [Stoke - Leicester] Loan

Cameroon striker Samuel Eto’o could be on his way out of Serie A club Sampdoria barely a week after joining the Italian side. The 33-year-old completed a three-and-a-half year deal with the Genova-based side last week, joining from Premier League outfit Everton. Yet reports from Italy suggest the former Indomitable Lions skipper could be on his way out already after clashing with club coach Sinisa Mihajlovic after refusing to attend an extra training session on Monday following the team’s 5-1 humbling by Torino on the weekend. Eto’o, who came on as a 71st-minute substitute in the encounter, reportedly chose to travel to Milan where his family is based instead of attending the trainings session, angering club management who are now considering terminating his contract. Sampdoria officials claim there was no argument, insisting the forward had left due to personal reasons, yet coach Mihajlovic pointed the finger directly at his new signing, adding that he is unsure of the player’s future in Italy. “In order to have a row, you need two people and quite frankly Eto’o did everything himself,” Mihajlovic said. “He just left. He told the club and it has shown a lack of respect for me and the entire team. I don’t know what the club intends to do."

Southampton have signed Ryan Bertrand from Chelsea on a four-and-a-half-year contract for £12.6m. The 25-year-old fullback originally joined the Saints on loan at the start of the season, making 27 appearances for the club to date. Bertrand had been at the Blues since 2005 but was farmed out to five different sides before starting to feature regularly for the Premier League leaders.

Tottenham Hotspur winger Aaron Lennon has joined Everton on loan until the end of the season. Lennon, 27, has made nine Premier League outings this season, and another eight in cup competitions. The England international has scored 30 goals in 365 games for Spurs since his 2005 arrival from Leeds United. "We all know what Aaron will bring to our squad with his experience and know-how, his involvement with England in two World Cups and the landmarks he has set in the Premier League," boss Roberto Martinez told Everton's website. "At 27, Aaron will be a really important asset to our squad and he will represent a real boost in terms of attacking options from now to the end of the season. His pace and trickery will fit in well at Goodison."

Guinea coach Michel Dussuyer has become the second coaching casualty of the African Nations Cup after announcing his departure after his team’s quarter-final exit on Sunday. He confirmed his decision on Monday following the 3-0 defeat to Ghana in Malabo, Guinea Football Federation officials said. It ends a second spell in charge of Guinea for the 55-year-old Frenchman. He took them to the quarter-finals in 2004 and qualified Guinea for the 2012 tournament as well. In 2010, he coached Benin at the Nations Cup in Angola. He had been in charge of Guinea since May 2010. Senegal coach Alain Giresse was the first manager to leave his post following his side’s first round exit at the tournament, which coincided with the end of his contract. Senegal were knocked out last week after losing 2-0 to Algeria in their last group match.

Algeria captain Madjid Bougherra has retired from international football after his country’s elimination from the African Nations Cup finals in Equatorial Guinea. “That was my last official match. In football, you have to turn the page. I thank the coach for trusting me, I thank the national team,” he told reporters as Algeria prepared to go home after being beaten 3-1 by Ivory Coast in their quarter-final in Malabo on Sunday. “With [coach Christian] Gourcuff, we have a future in my view," the 32-year-old added after his 70th cap. We have many regrets about losing the match [against the Ivorians], we deserved better. We had opportunities, we unfortunately could not capitalise. This team is young with an average age of 23-24 years and it will return for many Nations Cups in the future," he added. French-born Bougherra debuted for Algeria in 2004 and played at the last two World Cups and also at two Nations Cup tournaments. Formerly on the books of Valencia and later Glasgow Rangers in Scotland, he now plays for Foujairah in the United Arab Emirates. 

New West Brom recruit Darren Fletcher insists that boyhood club Manchester United were reluctant to let him go, having spent the last 19 years at Old Trafford. The experienced midfielder signed a two-and-a-half-year deal at the Hawthorns in a deadline day deal, having found game-time hard to come by under Louis van Gaal with just four starts this season. Fletcher joined the Red Devils as an academy player in 1995, and made 338 appearances for the club, who he reveals did not want him to depart. "Manchester United didn't want me to leave," the Scotland international told Talksport. "It's been a rollercoaster at Man United and I wouldn't change it for the world. The club were great with me, particularly when I was coming back from illness and the fans were fantastic as well. I'm a professional footballer and I want to play football. I haven't been playing as much as I wanted and it's time for a new challenge." Fletcher was initially linked with a move to West Ham, until West Brom coach Tony Pulis intervened at the last minute to snap up the 31-year-old. "I have great respect for Sam Allardyce but for me Tony Pulis has been fantastic,” said the midfielder. “He really wanted me and believed me - that's what I wanted to hear." West Brom currently lie 15th in the Premier League standings, and take on fellow strugglers Burnley in their next League encounter on Sunday afternoon.

Fifa have confirmed the names of the four candidates running for the position of the association’s presidency.  Current president Sepp Blatter, who has been at the helm since 1998, will run for his fifth successive term in charge of the world football governing body, yet will be challenged for the position by Prince Ali bin al-Hussein of Jordan, Michael van Praag of the Netherlands and former Portuguese international Luis Figo. Blatter, 78, is widely expected to retain his position in office, having worked for Fifa since 1975. The elections are scheduled to take place on 29 May in Zurich, Switzerland.

Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers was thrilled after striker Daniel Sturridge marked his return from injury with a goal in his side’s 2-0 victory over West Ham over the weekend. The England international had featured in just three League matches for the Reds before picking up an injury while on national duty in September, yet showed no signs of rust as he scored just 12 minutes after coming off the bench in his first game back, resulting in heaps of praise from the Liverpool coach. "He lights up this team. He provides the light," Rodgers told reporters. "When you add a top-class player like him to it, you can go to another level. When he came on, the team looked very, very good. He's still a bit of time off starting and it's just about bedding him back in. But to know that he's there over the next few weeks when it will be about regaining his football fitness." Liverpool have been struggling upfront, with strikers Mario Balotelli, Fabio Borini and Rickie Lambert yet to find their form.  Sturridge will hope to be on target again for his side this weekend as the Reds take on Merseyside neighbours Everton on Saturday evening.

Tunisian Football Federation president Wadii Al Jarii has resigned from his post on the organising committee of the Africa Cup of Nations 2015 following his side’s controversial exit from the tournament. The Carthage Eagles were minutes away from victory against hosts Equatorial Guinea in their quarter-final match on Saturday before Mauritian referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn awarded a dubious penalty. Javier Angel Balboa Osa converted from the spot, sending the game into extra-time, before scoring a superb free-kick as the hosts completed the comeback and advanced to the last four at Tunisia’s expense. Tunisia coach Georges Leekens vented his anger towards the referee after the match, comments which may land his in hot water. And according to Tunisian media, Al Jarii has quit his position within the Afcon organising committee, while compatriot Chiheb Belkhiria – a member of the finance committee of CAF – has also left his position after the controversial defeat. An emotional Tunisia coach George Leekens came dangerously close to claiming last night’s Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal was rigged – comments which may land him in hot water with CAF. "The result was forced. They were at home,” he raged after Tunisia were eliminated from the Nations Cup in controversial fashion by hosts Equatorial Guinea. I said [on Friday] that I hoped the referee would be up to the job. He was not,” the veteran coach added. “In all my 45 years in football, I had never seen such a decision. It was a terrible decision. It is difficult to accept such an injustice ... we didn’t expect to leave this tournament in this manner,” the 65-year-old Belgian insisted. Tunisia appeared to be cruising to a typical 1-0 victory when Equatorial Guinea were awarded a penalty deep into injury time. Ivan Bolado flopped to the ground when it was obvious to the naked eye that he had not been fouled, but referee Rajindraparsad Seechurn from Mauritius pointed to the spot and Javier Balboa converted the penalty. Then In extra-time, Balboa – a Real Madrid youth product who now plays for Estoril in Portugal – scored his second, a beautifully curled free-kick into the top corner that sent the hosts into the semi-finals. Leekens protested that his defender, Hamza Mathlouthi had "not even touched" Bolado for the penalty. "Everyone makes mistakes. This one was a big one,” he stormed. “The free-kick, okay, but the penalty is unacceptable. Everyone laughed. I couldn't believe my eyes.” While Leekens' protests will draw sympathy, the manner in which his players harassed the referee at the end of the match were no laughing matter. Their actions, together with Leekens' comments might well draw the wrath of CAF on the Carthage Eagles.

Premier League leaders Chelsea had their appeal over Diego Costa’s charge of violent conduct rejected last Friday, meaning the Spaniard will now miss his side’s next two league fixtures after sitting out against Manchester City. Costa was charged by the FA for violent conduct after stamping on Liverpool’s Emre Can in their Capital One Cup semi-final clash on Tuesday evening. Despite Chelsea’s appeal, the English FA upheld their decision following a hearing on Friday, as Costa faced a three-match ban for his misdemeanour. Costa is Chelsea’s leading goal-scorer this season with 17 goals in 19 matches thus far in the League.