International News - Issue 270



United Agree To Let Di Maria Join PSG
Manchester United have reportedly agreed to sell Angel Di Maria to Paris Saint-Germain for £44.5 million. United signed the Argentine from Real Madrid for £59.7m last summer, but after initially impressing his form faded and he only started one of the club's last 10 games of 2014/15. The 27-year-old scored four goals and provided 12 assists in 32 outings for the Red Devils.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a few choice words to say about FIFA during a CNN interview. World football’s governing body is under scrutiny at the moment, both for accusations of bribery and corruption and the decision to award the 2022 World Cup to Qatar. Ronaldo has had an icy opinion of FIFA president Sepp Blatter over the years, often accusing him of favouring Barcelona and their superstar Lionel Messi. And he made his feelings known during the CNN interview when asked about the organisation. “I don't care about Fifa and Qatar! I don't give a f**k! Speaking about Fifa, come on.”

Rafael da Silva will join French club Lyon from Manchester United on a four-year contract for an undisclosed fee. The 25-year-old right-back, who has two Brazil caps, moved to United along with his twin brother Fabio from Fluminense in 2008. However, he had fallen out of favour at the club under Louis van Gaal, starting just six league games last season. "I want to thank Manchester United fans for all the love during those eight years," Rafael tweeted. He was left out of United's squad for their pre-season tour of the United States, before Torino right-back Matteo Darmian joined the Old Trafford club. Rafael will join the Ligue 1 runners-up having made 170 appearances for Manchester United, scoring five goals. He won three Premier League titles, the Club World Cup and the League Cup during his seven years at United. Rafael's brother Fabio has already left United, having joined Cardiff City in January 2014.

New Juventus signing Sami Khedira will miss the opening stages of the new Serie A season after suffering a thigh injury. The German World Cup winner, who joined the Bianconeri from Spanish giants Real Madrid, was stretchered off the field midway through the first half in his side’s 2-0 friendly loss to Marseille last Saturday. Tests have revealed the extent of the 28-year-old’s injury, with the club announcing their new recruit is set to miss a large portion of the start of their new campaign. Khedira spent an injury-plagued season at the Bernabeu last season, making just 17 appearances in all competitions. Juve open their league campaign against Udinese on Sunday, 23 August.

Former World Footballer of the Year Ronaldinho completed a successful first 90 minutes back in Brazilian club football when he set up the winning goal as Fluminense beat Gremio. Although he was off the pace, and some of his passes went astray, the 35-year-old former Barcelona star made a decisive intervention when his cross was knocked down by Wellington Paulista for Marcos Junior to dribble round the goalkeeper and score the only goal of the game in the 77th minute. The result moves Fluminense into third position in the league.

New Montreal Impact striker Didier Drogba has asked fans to be patient as he looks to get back to full fitness soon. The 37-year-old former Chelsea forward penned a deal with the MLS outfit last  week, embarking on a new adventure in Canada following a successful career in Europe and a brief stint in China. Yet the Ivorian has not played a competitive match since 24 May when Chelsea lifted the League title, and has called on fans to be patient as he aims to get back to his best. "It's almost been two-and-a-half months that I haven't played," Drogba said. "I'll need time. We'll see with the coach... I will eventually play but I want to be able to contribute to the team and not be kind of a burden. I need to get ready." The former Ivory Coast captain says Montreal’s diverse culture played a big part in his decision to move to North America. "This cultural diversity is important," he said. "I quite simply felt like getting to know the city. I was won over by the project and by the work that the president has already started with the club, looking to give back to the community through soccer. It's a little bit like what I do with my foundation. My children are bilingual. I know there are superb schools here. It also went into my decision." Drogba has scored over 250 goals in just over 600 appearances across all clubs in which he has played, including Marseille, Galatasaray, Shanghai Shenhua and Chelsea.

Chelsea striker Diego Costa could miss his club's first game of the season against Swansea City on Saturday due to a hamstring injury. The Brazil-born Spain international played no part in the Blues' Community Shield defeat to Arsenal. “I don’t know if Diego Costa will be available for the start of the season," Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said. He had a little problem after the Barcelona game. After that he was training normally and we thought he would be ready, but this morning he was feeling uncomfortable." Costa contributed 20 goals to the Londoners' Premier League triumph last term.

Newcastle United have completed the signing of DR Congo international Chancel Mbemba. The 20-year-old joins on a five-year deal from Anderlecht, and becomes the club’s third signing after Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic.

Paris Saint-Germain striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic insists he is happy in France, yet revealed his next move will be a “very big surprise”. The 33-year-old has spent three successful years in Paris, yet has been linked to a move away from the French capital, with Premier League side Manchester United and former employers AC Milan reportedly interested. The Swede was on the scoresheet in his side’s 2-0 friendly victory over United in the USA on Wednesday, and after revealing his interest in playing in the MLS earlier this week, Zlatan chose to keep his cards close to his chest regarding a potential move in future. "Where I go next, it will be a surprise, a very big surprise," he told reporters with a smile after the United victory. "I'm very happy at PSG. You don't see that on the field? I have another year on my contract with PSG and I am very happy. Things are getting better. We are a strong team, we can do much more than we have been doing so at the moment but I am very happy." PSG’s win meant they were crowned winners of the friendly International Champions Cup tournament following earlier victories over Benfica and Fiorentina, and Ibrahimovic feels these encounters have been ideal preparation ahead of his side’s defence of their league title.

Germany striker Mario Gomez is the latest big-name player to move to Turkey, penning a one-year loan deal with Besiktas. The former Bayern Munich forward joined Serie A side Fiorentina two years ago. The 2007 German Footballer of the Year is now looking for a new challenge in the Turkish Super Lig. The 30-year-old joins a number of high-profile names to move to Turkey this season, including Robin van Persie, Lukas Podolski and Nani. Gomez, who has scored 25 goals in 59 games for Germany, has netted over 200 goals throughout his club career with Stuttgart, Bayern and Fiorentina.

UEFA president Michel Platini has confirmed he intends on running for the FIFA presidency in next year’s elections. Platini, who has been in charge of the European football organisation since 2007, was rumoured to have been interested in the running, with UEFA confirming the news on their website last Wednesday. The Frenchman revealed his desire to instil change in the world football governing body as the motivating factor behind putting his name forward. "This was a very personal, carefully considered decision, one in which I weighed up the future of football alongside my own future,” he wrote in a letter addressed to all 209 football associations. “I was also guided by the esteem, support and encouragement that many of you have shown me. During this last half-century or so, FIFA has only had two presidents. This extreme stability is something of a paradox in a world that has experienced radical upheavals and in a sport that has undergone considerable economic change. However, recent events force the supreme governing body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its governance." Platini added that he hopes FIFA will become more “respected and liked” in future. "I am counting on your support and our common love of football so that, together, we can give the tens of millions of football fans the FIFA that they want: a FIFA that is exemplary, united and shows solidarity, a FIFA that is respected, liked and of the people," he said. All candidates willing to run for the FIFA presidential position must submit their names by 26 October 2015, with the elections set to be held in Zurich on 26 February 2016.

Adidas has reunited with Manchester United to reveal the new home kit for the 2015/16 season.  Manchester United is one of the most popular and successful sports teams in the world. The club has 659 million fans globally, making it one of the world's most-supported football clubs. Taking inspiration from classic three-stripe United kits from the 1980s, adidas has reengineered these iconic designs with a modern twist, taking familiar style features that were loved by the fans and combined them with the latest performance technologies to produce innovative, modern classics. The new looks shirts include the latest in adidas lightweight and breathable technologies to ensure the players take to the pitch with the most innovative kit design ever. The new home kit, which will be debuted in the opening game of the season at Old Trafford, features a classic v neck cut collar and three stripe design down the shoulder. There is also a graphic design on the hem of the shirt taken from the 1990 shirt famously worn by Ryan Giggs in his debut season.” The home kit will be available at selected adidas concept stores, specialist sport and football retailers countrywide from today at a recommended retail price of R799.

Manchester United coach Louis van Gaal is confident defender Luke Shaw will raise his game in his second season at the club. The England international made a big-money move to Old Trafford last year, yet a number of fitness and injury concerns restricted him to just 15 League appearances for the Red Devils last season. However, Van Gaal firmly believes the youngster will be at his best in the upcoming campaign. "I think that it shall be the season of Luke Shaw, that I believe," Van Gaal said to reporters in the United States. "I believe in him and he has to feel that, and I hope he shall show it. Luke Shaw is a big talent. He's very young so it's not so easy for him to come from Southampton to as big a club as Manchester United. He's only 20 years old. How many players of that age are playing in the Premier League?" Shaw will be buoyed by the fact he has enjoyed a solid pre-season tour with United following the extra rest period granted to him in the off season after not featuring in the England team that did battle in the U-21 European Championships last month.

Brazilian legend Rivaldo believes he would win the Ballon d'Or multiple times if he was at his peak in the current era. Rivaldo, who came out of retirement for second-tier Mogi Mirim this month, claimed Fifa's top individual playing prize in 1999. The 43-year-old, however, is adamant the quality of football has since dropped, pointing to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo's scoring exploits as evidence of this. Messi and Ronaldo have collected the past seven Ballon d'Ors between them. Rivaldo told Globo Esporte: “If my time was today, I’d bet with anyone that I would be the best player in the world two or three times. I’m sure I would score 50 goals per season.” He added: ”Football today is very different from before. The quality was much better before, in Brazil and worldwide, such as Spain and Italy. You see how football is not good when Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, the best today, are scoring 50 goals in the championship. This shows that the level [of football] is lower. Even for the best in the world, you should not be scoring 50 goals in 38 games.” Rivaldo's record haul for a season was 34 goals in 2000/01.

Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho has hit back at a statement made by the wife of Real Madrid coach Rafa Benitez, insisting she is “a bit confused”. Benitez, who was appointed new Real Madrid coach for the upcoming season, has now taken over a post previously occupied by Mourinho at three separate clubs, including Inter Milan, Chelsea and now Madrid, with his wife Montserrat Seara Benitez joking that he always has to clean up Mourinho’s mess. "Real Madrid are the third of Jose Mourinho's old teams Rafa has coached," Montserrat Seara Benitez told La Region newspaper. "We tidy up his messes.” Mourinho then responded to the jab, insisting he destroyed Inter Milan – with whom he won the treble in 2010 – in just six months, while also poking fun at Benitez’s weight. “The lady is a bit confused, with all respect," Mourinho said in response. "I'm not laughing. Because her husband went to Chelsea to replace Roberto Di Matteo and he went to Real Madrid and replaced Carlo Ancelotti. The only club where her husband replaces me was at Inter Milan, where in six months he destroyed the best team in Europe at the time. And for her also to think about me and to speak about me, I think the lady needs to occupy her time and if she takes care of her husband's diet she will have less time to speak about me." Mourinho has also been in a war of words with Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger, insisting he needs to use a calculator to add up the amount of money he has spent on transfers after playing down his side’s title ambitions.

Liverpool striker Rickie Lambert has switched Premier League clubs, joining English counter-parts West Bromwich Albion on a two-year deal. The 33-year-old was handed the club’s number 17 jersey and scored a brace hours after completing the move, with coach Tony Pulis well-pleased with his new acquisition. "Rickie is a good, strong, solid player who is a great character, good in the dressing room and good on the pitch," said the Albion head coach. We are very pleased to have him on board. He's a player of great pedigree and we look forward to integrating him into our squad." Lambert leaves the Reds after just one season at Anfield, joining from Southampton last year, yet endured a difficult 2014/15 season, making just seven league starts and scoring just three goals in 36 appearances across all competitions.

Newly-promoted English Premier League club Bournemouth have secured their seventh signing for the new season after signing Ivory Coast international Max Gradel.“AFC Bournemouth have signed Ivory Coast international Max Gradel, subject to international clearance and Premier League approval, from St Etienne for an undisclosed fee,” read a statement on the club’s official website. The 27-year-old returns to the club seven years after his last appearance, having spent two separate seasons on loan at the Vitality Stadium from Leicester City. Gradel has signed a four-year deal with the English club following four successful years in France where he scored 31 goals in 117 games for St Etienne, who finished a respectable fifth in Ligue 1 last season. The winger, who has 34 national caps to his name, was part of Ivory Coast’s title-winning team who lifted the 2015 AFCON trophy earlier this year. Bournemouth’s addition in the attacking department leaves many questions regarding the future of Bafana Bafana striker Tokelo Rantie at the club, with the former Bucs forward recently linked with a move to Championship side Cardiff City.

Mexico national coach Miguel Herrera has been fired after allegedly punching a journalist in the neck at the airport. El Tri were 3-1 winners over Jamaica in the Gold Cup Final on Sunday as they were crowned CONCACAF victors, yet are now without a head coach after Herrera assaulted TV Azteca journalist Christian Martinoli at Philadelphia International Airport. Following an investigation into the matter, the Mexican Football Association (FMF) confirmed that they have parted ways with their manager following his unacceptable behaviour. "After listening to all my colleagues who are part of this federation, and reasoning I have made the decision to take Miguel Herrera out of the national team," incoming president Decio de Maria said. "It is not a simple decision, but it is the correct one. Matches never finish and as public figures we have to keep that in mind. Everyone has had an opinion but, as I said, our values have to be kept and no one can be above the type of situation we saw on Monday at the Philadelphia airport."