International News - Issue 272

Everton Won't Throw Stones At Chelsea

Everton have rejected a £30m Chelsea bid for John Stones. It is the third bid to be thrown out by Everton with Chelsea having already offered bids of around £20m and £26m for the rising England centre-half. However, Everton remain adamant that the England youngster is not for sale. "We feel that we are a big club. You're going to get clubs working with big budgets because they have been working in the Champions League but we are a club with nine league titles," Roberto Martinez has previously said. "We are a big club. What we want is to build and what we want to do is concentrate on the future and we are not a selling club.” Stones moved to Everton back in 2013 for a fee of £3m and has since been capped four times by England. It has been widely reported that the Toffees will reluctantly accept a bid in the region of £40m for the highly-rated 21-year-old.

Real Madrid have agreed terms with Inter Milan for midfielder Mateo Kovacic for €35million (£25m), manager Roberto Mancini has confirmed. Kovacic sat out Inter's friendly clash with AEK Athens on Sunday with a deal being reached for the player between the respective clubs later that evening. Liverpool launched a £17.7million bid for Kovacic earlier this summer with Inter rejecting Brendan Rodgers' bid. Inter boss Mancini explained that the Italian side were forced to offload the 21-year-old playmaker due to Financial Fair Play Restrictions. “Am I disappointed about Kovacic? It's a shame, but unfortunately there are rules that must be respected,” Mancini said following his side's draw with AEK Athens on Sunday.  I don't think any of us didn't want him here, but to respect the Financial Fair Play parameters we had to do something. That doesn't mean we won't make a squad capable of challenging. We are all disappointed, from the President to the players, but faced with rules we have to make sacrifices. It's a pity some don't understand that. Kovacic and Xherdan Shaqiri left for the same reason, so now perhaps we can do other things. We hope to sign suitable players soon, even if the transfer market goes on for the rest of August. Having sacrificed two important players will allow us to take other elements in roles where we are lacking. Full-back and midfielder? We'll see.” The Croat joined Inter from Dinamo Zagreb in 2013 and has made 80 appearances for the Serie A side.

Speculation regarding Sergio Ramos’ future at Real Madrid can finally be put to bed after the club announced the defender will remain at the Santiago Bernabeu until 2020 after signing a five-year deal. The Spanish international was widely linked with a move to Manchester United after media suggested he was unhappy in the Spanish capital, yet the club have confirmed their star defensive player will remain a Galactico.  Ramos has played a key role in Madrid’s success in recent years, making over 400 appearances and scoring over 50 goals since joining from Sevilla in 2005. In the last decade, he has helped Los Blancos lift three La Liga titles, the Copa del Rey and the 2013 Champions League title. Ramos’ contract extension leaves the future of David De Gea uncertain, with United saying the Spanish shot-stopper could only leave for Madrid if Ramos would be involved in a move in the opposite direction.

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is bemused by Philippe Coutinho's omission from Brazil's squad for friendlies with Costa Rica and the United States. Coutinho, who scored a stunning winner for the Reds against Stoke last weekend, has been dropped in favour of veteran playmaker Kaka despite playing at this summer's Copa America. "I was very surprised. With everything I had seen last season, with the changes in the squad, he was going to be one of the flagship players for the new dawn of Brazilian football," said Rodgers. "It is hard to understand. He made team of the season in the hardest league in the world, how he cannot be in the squad is incredible really. I spoke to him at length on Friday about it and of course he is disappointed but his only focus is on Liverpool. He is a really humble boy, a proud man for his country, so I am sure he will pick up the form he has shown over the last 18 months and I am sure it will not be long before he is back in it." 

Manchester City are poised to sign Argentina defender Nicolas Otamendi. The Valencia centre-back was initially linked with a move to city rivals Manchester United, yet various publications in Europe now suggest the Citizens are in advanced talks with the player’s Spanish club Valencia, and are reportedly offering Eliaquim Mangala on loan as part of the deal. The 27-year-old, who has 25 international caps to his name, currently has a buy-out clause €50 million, yet has reportedly landed in Manchester ahead of his move to the Etihad. The former Porto defender is a mainstay in the Argentina squad, featuring in their World Cup team last year and playing in all but one game at this year’s Copa America, where he was named in the competition’s Team of the Tournament.

Chelsea have agreed a deal to sign Ghanaian fullback Abdul Baba Rahman from FC Augsburg. The 21-year-old was a member of the Black Stars squad that finished as runners-up to Ivory Coast in the Africa Cup of Nations in February. Rahman told the Blues' website: "I am very happy to sign for Chelsea, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and I can't wait to train with my new team-mates and very much looking forward to working with them and Mr Mourinho." Rahman made 31 appearances in his single season for Augsburg last term, helping the club qualify for the Europa League. The former Asante Kotoko man previously spent two years with Greuther Furth in Germany.

Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said tactics informed his decision to haul off John Terry at half-time of their 3-0 loss to Manchester City on Sunday. The Blues were a goal down when Mourinho replaced Terry - who was an ever-present feature in the club's Premier League triumph last term - with Kurt Zouma at the Etihad Stadium.  "John Terry [had no injury]. It was just a decision. I know that Kurt Zouma is the fastest defender Chelsea have," Mourinho said. "He is a player of my total trust. With me he was never substituted but, with other managers, he was not even playing. Some people thought his career was over. If anyone has the free mind to make this decision, I am the one because I'm the one who gave him the chance to be what he is: a fantastic player and captain. I left him out because, tactically, I had to make a change. Sometimes you are right and sometimes you are wrong but I think I was right. We controlled the counterattack completely afterwards. My decision was proven right. John is Chelsea captain, for sure, and a player with my entire confidence, for sure," he added of the 34-year-old centre-back.

Ashley Cole is leaving AS Roma after just one season at the club. The 34-year-old left-back only moved to Italy last year after his contract with Chelsea expired. But halfway through his current deal he is to be let go, having made only 11 appearances in 2014/15 and hardly featuring during pre-season. Meanwhile, Roma have reportedly had a loan bid for Liverpool defender Mamadou Sakho rejected. The Italians approached the Reds for the French international, who is seemingly playing second fiddle to Dejan Lovren as Martin Skrtel’s partner, but were turned away.

Tottenham Hotspur have completed the signing of Cameroon international Clinton Njie. The 22-year-old forward joins from French club Lyon and has signed a five-year deal. He made his Lyon debut in 2012, and netted eight times in 33 matches in 2014/15. He has also scored six goals in 11 games for Cameroon.

Manchester City have reportedly joined the race for unsettled Barcelona striker Pedro, with Manchester United believed to be interested too. Pedro has been rumoured to want out at the Catalan giants following a bit-part role in the team's treble-winning campaign last season, with his buy-out clause set for around €30-million. United are believed to have already made an offer of around €28-million, and Louis Van Gaal has publicly admitted his interest in the Spanish international attacker. However, according to unofficial reports, Manchester City have also submitted an offer of €30-million to lure Pedro away from the Camp Nou, which would effectively trigger his release. With the combination of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar proving largely successful last season, Pedro looks closer than ever to the Barca exit door in search of more game-time. The 28-year-old is believed to be keen on a move to United, but his club are refusing to let him go for less than his buy-out clause. Pedro is the only player to score in six different club competitions in the same season, and has managed 99 goals in 319 appearances for the Spanish giants, since making his debut in January 2008.

Tottenham Hotspur have confirmed the sale of striker Roberto Soldado to La Liga side Villarreal. The London side confirmed the transfer of the Spanish striker on their official Twitter page, with the deal being worth a reported £12-million. Soldado joined Spurs in 2013 from Valencia, and makes a return to his homeland following a largely unsuccessful spell in the English Premier League. The 30-year-old scored a mere 16 goals in 76 games for The Lilywhites.

Aston Villa have signed winger Adama Traore from Barcelona for a reported €10 million. Traore has penned a five-year contract with the Premier League side. The 19-year-old made four appearances for Barca, who reserve the right to buy him back for an agreed price inside the next three years. Villa have been busy in the market of late, also recruiting Micah Richards, Idrissa Gueye, Scott Sinclair, Jordan Veretout, Jordan Ayew, Jordan Amavi, Jose Angel Crespo and Rudy Gestede. However, influential trio Ron Vlaar, Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke departed Villa Park this summer.

Orlando City midfielder Kaka revealed his delight after being included in the latest Brazil squad for two upcoming friendlies. The 33-year-old has been in solid form for his MLS franchise, scoring nine goals and providing four assists in 22 matches, catching the eye of national coach Dunga, who included the 2007 Ballon d’Or winner in his squad for September’s friendlies. "It's a big day for me… I'm back in the national team after almost a year, and I'm so happy for that," said Kaka, who last turned out for his country in a 4-0 win over Japan last October. I think I can help the national team in this period. We're starting the qualification process for the next World Cup, so it's an important period for everybody and also for me. So, I'm so happy and glad to be back in the national team again." The Selecao face Costa Rica on 5 September before taking on the USA three days later. Kaka played in the 2002, 2006 and 2010 World Cups, but missed out as his native country hosted the 2014 tournament. It seems unlikely that the former AC Milan and Real Madrid star will make the cut for the next world showpiece, with his age against him – he will be 36 years old when Russia 2018 kicks off in three years’ time.

Southampton have signed Spanish midfielder Oriol Romeu from Chelsea on a three-year contract for an undisclosed fee. The 23-year-old joined the Blues in August 2011, but only made 22 Premier League outings as he was loaned out to Valencia and then Stuttgart.

Forgotten Liverpool defender Luis Enrique says he feels alienated after he was left out of the club's pre-season tour along with Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli. The 29-year-old Spaniard was left to train at the club's Melwood base during the recent pre-season preparations, along with teammates Fabio Borini and Mario Balotelli. Enrique has turned to Marca to criticise the club and says he feels alienated at Anfield now that he is in the final year of his contract. “I’m in a difficult position. The club have alienated Balotelli, Borini and me," said Enrique. "I have a year left on my contract and I imagine the club will want to sell, but I still want to stay and fight as I always have." Despite feeling isolated, and with young Joe Gomez having taken up his left-back position in the club's opening friendly against Stoke, Enrique hopes his experience will still be needed in the upcoming season. "I will not give up. I know from experience that football changes from day to night. In the squad here we only have one pure left-back [Alberto Moreno] and I know that if I stay I’ll play. I want to prove that some are wrong.”

Serie-A side AS Roma has confirmed the signing of Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko on a one-year loan, with an option of making the move permanent. The Bosnian international says his one aim is to help the Italian side win trophies, while promising to give his best for his new team.

Brazilian defender Rafael has revealed the reason for his move to French side Lyon is because Manchester United manager Louis Van Gaal "didn't like" him. The 25-year-old signed a four-year deal with the Ligue 1 side two weeks ago, and has already spilled the beans on his time at the Manchester club. With previous reports that Van Gaal has a certain dislike of Brazilian players, in an interview with Globo Esporte, Rafael says he cannot confirm the rumour but reveals that the Dutchman was certainly not a fan of him. "I don’t know, sincerely. I don’t know what to say about that, because I was the only one, since Anderson left before [in the January transfer window]," said Rafael. "I know this history that he doesn’t like Brazilian [players], but I can't say: 'Oh, he doesn’t like Brazilians'. I know that he didn’t like me, but if that’s because I'm Brazilian, I don't know." Rafael, the twin brother of Cardiff defender Fabio, points to the departure of former manager Sir Alex Ferguson as the downfall of his United career. "I did the complete season, when he (Ferguson) left. In 2012-13 I played almost every game, it was my best season at United, we were even champions. And that’s when they changed the manager. That change was fatal for me. I was going well, then Ferguson left. That’s what changed, so Valencia started playing as a right-back for Van Gaal. He’s also a great player, but I was doing well in that position," he added.