International News - Issue 254



Alves Set To Leave Barca
Barcelona fullback Dani Alves looks set to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, according to his agent Dinorah Santa Ana. Alves's representative, who is also his ex-wife, told a press conference her client had received an unsatisfactory offer of a new deal from Barca amid interest from another club. French big-spenders Paris Saint-Germain and Manchester United have recently been linked with the 31-year-old Brazilian. "We waited a whole year to talk to Barca," Santa Ana said. "We had two offers on the table, but we stopped all negotiations to listen to what Barca had to say." She added: "There is another club willing to give Dani a three-year contract with a higher wage, plus the option of another year. But Barca told us they could not get near those figures. Dani would be happy to stay on the same wages he is on now, but they offered one year plus the option of two more. This morning, a formal offer arrived by e-mail, but it stipulated that he has to play 60 per cent of the games for it to be renewed the following year. Dani is sad. He expected more from Barca. The negotiations are finished now. He will finish his contract as best as he can." Alves joined the La Liga giants in July 2008 from Sevilla. His absence would cause Barca major problems for next season as the club are banned for registering new players until January 2016 due to a Fifa sanction for irregularities in the signing of minors.


Meanwhile, Barcelona insist that Dani Alves could still stay at the Camp Nou. Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu says they are in talks with Alves and are trying to get him to sign a new contract. "Barcelona are constantly negotiating to bring in players or offer them new deals, but we do so discretely," he said. "In Alves's case, the matter is not closed. If Alves accepts the deal we have offered him, then he will stay at Barca. Everyone has their own strategy. Ours is discretion and a final statement announcing a deal."

Real Madrid B team coach Zinedine Zidane has reiterated the club have no intention of selling Gareth Bale in the summer. Bale has recently been linked with a move to Manchester United amid suggestions of a swap deal involving Spanish goalkeeper David De Gea. However, Real president Florentino Perez has made it clear the winger is staying put, with Zidane now adding credence to those claims. "Real Madrid buy the best players in the world. They don't sell them," said Zidane. "Of course other clubs will be interested in him, he would improve any squad in the world, but the president has said he is not for sale and that is because he is not for sale. That will be the answer to Manchester United or any other club that asks the question. He was a big part of our success last season especially in the Champions League, and as we look to defend our title I am sure he will play a successful part again," concluded the French legend. Bale has been criticised by Los Blancos fans this term despite scoring 13 La Liga goals. The 25-year-old shone in his first season at the Bernabeu after arriving in a world-record £86m transfer from Tottenham in 2013.

Former Brazil star Roberto Carlos has expressed his desire to coach the national team one day. The 42-year-old, who earned 125 caps between 1992 and 2006, has held managerial roles at Sivasspor, Akhisar Belediyespor and Anzhi Makhachkala since retiring from playing in 2012. "My objective is to coach the national team," Carlos said. "I know I have a long way to go yet and for that reason I won't put a timeframe on how long it will take.” The former Real Madrid and Inter Milan fullback said he has adjusted quickly to his new vocation. “It's very easy. I was well prepared by playing football and living under pressure. I spent my career at big clubs. I've learned something from all the coaches I've worked with: [Mario] Zagallo, [Carlos Alberto] Parreira, [Vicente] Del Bosque, [Fabio] Capello, [Luiz Felipe] Scolari and Roy Hodgson."

Veteran Brazilian goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni netted the 127th goal of his career this past weekend. The 42-year-old opened the scoring with a free-kick in Sao Paulo's 3-0 Campeonato Paulista quarter-final win over RB Brasil. Ceni is by far the most prolific goalie in terms of goals, way ahead of second-placed Jose Luis Chilavert, who managed 67 in a 22-year career.

Ashley Young suspects Yaya Toure did not relish taking on Marouane Fellaini in Sunday's Manchester derby. Manchester United beat Manchester City 4-2 to end a four-match losing streak against their neighbours, with Young and Fellaini - who starred in the midfield scrap - both scoring for the Red Devils at Old Trafford. Toure has come under fire for his display on the weekend, most notably from former United defender Gary Neville, who slammed the Ivorian's work-rate and big-match temperament. "Felli has been brilliant," Young told MUTV. "Everyone will say the same. Since he’s come into the team, he’s been fantastic.  I’ve said before that very few people can handle him. On his day, he’s unplayable. I don’t think Yaya Toure wanted to be tracking back, he wanted to be at the other end of the pitch but he had that job to do on Felli. When Felli is in the box and you can find him, you’ve definitely got a chance of scoring. I saw him at the back post and hoped he’d get on the end of it and score and, thankfully, he managed to do that."

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has received a four-match suspension following his criticism of a referee last month. Ibrahimovic ranted at the fourth official after PSG's 3-2 defeat to Bordeaux on March 15, with television footage suggesting he said: "F--ing wake up -- we're not playing in the amateurs. Wake up! I have never seen that in 15 years in my career, such a referee in this s--- country. [You] don't even deserve PSG to be in this country." Disciplinary commission president Sebastien Deneux said: "He has been sanctioned because of the offensive nature and rudeness of his words." The Swede, who later said he was sorry after the French sports minister asked him to apologise, is available for Saturday's Coupe de la Ligue Final against Bastia as his suspension starts next week. He will miss four Ligue 1 matches as well as his side's UEFA Champions League first-leg clash against Barcelona after he was sent off against Chelsea in the previous round.



Luis Suarez has confirmed he spoke to Real Madrid about a transfer to the European champions before making his "dream" move to Barcelona. The controversial Uruguayan signed for Barca in July 2014 in an €81 million switch from Liverpool, but has confirmed to 'El Partido de las 12' that the Catalans' huge rivals had also shown an interest. "Yes, I spoke to them but said 'later'. They wanted me, but my dream was here," said the 28-year-old. "When I heard the name 'Barcelona' I didn't hesitate. Honestly, I never imagined Barcelona would come in and had no doubts at all once they did. You never know what can happen in football but luckily I stuck around for Barca, which was what I wanted. It was the fulfilment of a dream I had had for so long." Despite having achieved his goal, Suarez admits he found it difficult to settle into the Blaugrana side when finally making his return to the field in October following a four-month biting ban. It wasn't that I had anxiety, but I felt like I had won a prize in a lottery and couldn't enjoy having fulfilled my dream. I felt like I had been invited to play rather but slowly that disappeared. Once I was alongside my peers I felt more comfortable."

Real Madrid’s wonder-kid Martin Odegaard is reportedly only focused on being close to Cristiano Ronaldo, and not his Castilla (reserve) teammates. The Norwegian youngster, who joined Los Blancos in January, has reportedly refused to attend training with his Castilla teammates, and only has his sights set on working with the Real Madrid first-team. The 16-year-old was benched in the Castilla team’s last two games, where the side managed to win both after failing to win two consecutive games with the Norwegian in the starting line-up. It’s reported that the young midfielder only attends Castilla training sessions just before match-day, which is not enough time for Martin Odegaard to build effective on-field relationships and understanding with his teammates. Apparently when Odegaard does play, he makes too many wrong decisions, which is another reason for him spending time on the bench. AS reported that some of the players have complained that Odegaard only wants to be in the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, and is “not bothered” with his Castilla teammates at all. Since his arrival at Los Blancos, Odegaard has played seven times for Castilla, scoring only one goal, and has failed to provide a single assist.


Former Ivory Coast international Didier Drogba has launched the first of the five hospitals he earlier promised to offer to the country as part of his charity activities. Situated in the Attecoube district of the country’s commercial city Abidjan, the $1 million health complex will mainly cater for less privileged women and children, according to officials. Built on a plot of 800 square meters, the hospital has many facilities including an ultrasound room, a maternal and child protection unit, an x-ray block, an ultra modern laboratory, a pharmacy and hospitalisation and isolation wards. About 50,000 patients are expected to get treatment at the facility every year, according to Guy Roland Tanoh, secretary of Didier Drogba Foundation, which is handling the project. The remaining four hospitals are under construction in the Ivorian cities of Yamoussoukro, San Pedro, Man and Korhogo and will be inaugurated in the coming months. Drogba’s foundation will hold a gala event in London on April 18 to raise funds. The Chelsea striker and the Elephants all-time top scorer remains an icon in his homeland despite retiring from the national team, which won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea in February.