International News - Issue 275

Pogba Turned Down £62-million Bid From Chelsea

Juventus star Paul Pogba turned down a sensational £62-million (R1.3-billion) bid by Chelsea just days before the transfer window closed. The much-coveted French midfielder would have earned an annual salary of £8.7-million (R180-million) at Chelsea, who would have sent Brazilian midfielder Oscar to Juve. It is alleged that the main reason why Pogba was not persuaded to move to Chelsea is that one of his former agents is refusing to part with his 25 percent stake in the midfielder. However, other sources say Pogba turned down Chelsea as he wants his next destination to be Barcelona. Juventus had agreed to sell Pogba at what was obviously ‘the right price’ at the right time, but Chelsea will now have to wait until the transfer window re-opens in January, when the price could well be significantly higher. “Maintaining a winning team is about making great signings, but when you're faced with offers of over €100-million, you wobble,” Juventus director general Beppe Marotta is quoted as saying when turning down a recent €80-million Barcelona bid for Pogba. If Barca are that desperate for the Juve number 10, they will have to join Chelsea in the queue for Pogba in January, when their transfer ban is lifted.

Belgium manager Marc Wilmots was unimpressed with Eden Hazard's display against Cyprus in an Euro 2016 qualifier despite the Chelsea playmaker scoring the only goal of the game. Hazard, who has also been criticised by Blues boss Jose Mourinho for his performances this season, converted a Dries Mertens cross late on in Nicosia on Sunday. Belgium are second in Group B, knowing victory over bottom-placed Andorra will send them to the finals in France. "He was the worst tonight," Wilmots said. "I thought about substituting him, but in the last 10 minutes he always the ability to do that. At the World Cup, this was the case. I obviously expect more from him, but he will grow as the season progresses."

Ex-Borussia Dortmund manager Jurgen Klopp says he is willing to join any club that has an 'exciting' project and needs help. Klopp left the Dortmund club at the end of last season after seven years at the helm, helping the team to two Bundesliga titles, one DFB-Pokal and a UEFA Champions League final. Despite turning down an offer to join French Ligue 1 side Marseille last month, the German coach says he is not only interested in joining one of world's top sides. "[My next move] doesn't have to be an absolute top club, there are other good projects that are exciting, [teams] who need help," Klopp said at the International Radio Exhibition in Berlin. "I stay informed, read and meet a lot of people - there are ordinary little things that are great fun. I miss nothing [about football] currently." The 48-year-old also says he is yet to decide on his future but insists he will return when the time and job offer feels right. "I don't know where I'll be heading to but right now, that's not important for me because I know that if I will have the right feeling it will be a wonderful next chapter. You will see what happens and I find it exciting right now not knowing what will happen next.  Most of the time in life, the next day is pre-planned. In my case, the next year is completely unplanned. I don't know when to continue, where to continue but I know that I will continue."

Tottenham Hotspur have left Emmanuel Adebayor out of their Premier League and Europa League squads for the 2015/16 season. The Togo international’s days at White Hart Lane are limited, but the club have been unable to get rid of the striker – and his considerable wages. A last-minute loan move to Aston Villa fell through, meaning he is likely to spend the remaining year of his contract in the stands in north London.  

Brazil striker Neymar has hit out at national team coach Dunga after being benched in their 1-0 friendly win over Costa Rica. Brazil narrowly beat the Central American side courtesy of an early goal from Hulk, while the Barcelona star had to settle for just 10 minutes on the pitch. Neymar was left out of Dunga's starting line-up for the friendly international in New Jersey on Saturday, and has since warned the coach that he will not tolerate sitting on the bench. "Being benched is not something I'm used to and I'm not willing to get used to it," Neymar told ESPN Brasil. "I want to play and I'm always working to be amongst the starting eleven." The 23-year-old also missed Barca's opening four matches of the season due to the mumps, and made his first start in the 1-0 La Liga win over Malaga last week.

Manchester United failed in bids for four Real Madrid players during the recent transfer window. The Red Devils’ pursuit of Sergio Ramos was well documented, with the defender eventually signing a new long-term deal and taking over the captain’s armband. But Real president Florentino Perez confirms that Louis van Gaal was also chasing Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane. “We know that United showed interest in Bale, Benzema and Varane,” he said. Arsenal were also thought to be keen on Benzema, while Bale was expected to return to England after a difficult second season at Madrid.

Real Madrid will donate €1-million to the current Syrian refugee crisis. Almost 3 000 people have died fleeing war-torn Syria to Europe, where governments are trying to find a way to deal with the mass influx. Bayern Munich donated €1-million earlier this week, and Real have now followed in the German giants’ footsteps. “Real Madrid has announced that it will donate €-million to aid refugees that are taken in by Spain,” a club statement read. "Faithful to its commitment to charity, the club has taken this decision with the aim of supporting men, women and children who have been forced to leave their homes in order to flee from war and death. The president of Real Madrid, Florentino Perez, spoke yesterday by phone with the president of the [Spanish] government, Mariano Rajoy. The pair talked about this contribution and other measures that the club will put in place in order to collaborate with the care of refugees that arrive in Spain.

Bayern Munich winger Arjen Robben will be out of action for a month after suffering a injury on international duty. The Dutch speedster limped off just after the half hour mark in his side’s shock 1-0 loss against Iceland last Thursday night clutching his groin, with his German club confirming the extent of the damage. “Arjen Robben will be out for four weeks after picking up an injury on international duty. #GetwellsoonArjen,” the Bavarians tweeted from their official account. After the game, Robben – who had endured an injury-hit season last year, insisted he was fine before the game. “I was super fit, but after a few knocks I felt it in my back. That went on to my groin and I couldn’t go on with the match. Now I will go back to Munich and I will not be playing against Turkey." Robben is set to miss crucial club matches for the Bundesliga side, including the much-anticipated clash against last season’s League runners up Wolfsburg, and his side’s first two Champions League group stage matches against Olympiakos and Dinamo Zagreb.

Controversial striker Emmanuel Adebayor failed to report for international duty ahead of his side’s Afcon qualifier last week. Togo were scheduled to take on Djibouti in Friday’s qualifier, but will seemingly have to do so without their national top goal-scorer, who has not reported for duty. "He has not given us a reason. He was in the squad but he has just not shown up,” a Togolese official said. The 31-year-old has been the topic of discussion the entire week, having been left out of Tottenham’s registered squad for the 2015/16 season, with former Spurs boss Harry Redknapp claiming the striker is “wasting away” at White Hart Lane. The 31-year-old refused a move away from the club despite making just three substitute appearances the entire year, and looks set to see out the remaining year on his contract with the Spurs development team.

Brazil defender David Luiz has hit back at criticism received from for Manchester United defender Gary Neville, saying the Englishman lacked respect. The former Red Devil likened the PSG defender’s playing style to that of a 10-year-old on a PlayStation, and although welcoming of any criticism, Luiz feels it must justifiable and given with respect. "I think that respect is imperative. I’m not saying that people have to like me or that nobody can criticise me. Do it with reason and balance, though, with responsibility. Not lacking respect. You can criticise someone, say they didn’t play well. That’s fine. When Gary Neville talked about me being like something out of a video game, that’s the sort of thing that lacks respect, especially because he was a player. But I reacted in a positive way because I know that he’s learning, and he’s growing into a new profession. I think he realised that he’d made a mistake, and he spoke well of me later on. These things happen." The 28-year-old then spoke of his move from Chelsea to the French capital, insisting it was his decision to leave Stamford Bridge. "I’d had four happy years at Chelsea, and they offered me a new contract, but I preferred to go. It was my decision. When I left [the Chelsea squad at the end of the 2013/14 season], I was with Brazil, and I didn’t really have any contact with [Mourinho]. I was in Brazil on holiday first, then preparing for the World Cup. Everything was presented to me, I accepted, and he sent me a little message saying ‘good luck.’ Afterwards, I went straight to Paris. I didn’t go back to London."

Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has lashed out following his rushed exit from the Chilean national team camp. The former Juventus star had travelled to Chile ahead of Saturday’s friendly against Paraguay, yet made a swift return to Germany, where he was seen at training with fellow Munich teammates on Thursday. Reports in Chile suggested the midfielder may have been sent home due to disciplinary reasons, with local papers reporting he had arrived at training under the influence of alcohol, while others say he was caught at a casino. Vidal, who has been known for various off-the-field incidents having crashed his Ferrari while on national duty at the Copa America this year, has responded to such claims, saying the media is merely dragging his name “through the mud”. "Of course I am upset because you are dirtying my image and I think that I am playing on one of the best teams in the world and this affects me a lot,” he said. "I would prefer it if you would be more kind to me in Chile, but some people just want to drag me through the mud." Vidal insists he returned home for personal reasons with his coach’s approval, while dismissing claims that his son, who has diabetes, was in any danger.

Real Madrid boss Florentino Perez has refused to take the blame for failing to finalise David De Gea’s proposed deadline day move, insisting Manchester United’s “inexperience” was at fault. The Red Devils shot-stopper was on the verge of completing his much-anticipated switch to the Santiago Bernabeu, yet the necessary paperwork was not submitted on time, leaving the 25-year-old stuck at Old Trafford, having yet to feature in a game under Louis van Gaal this season. Madrid president Perez says he is baffled by the amount of time United took to send in the relevant documents, claiming the Spanish club had completed their necessary papers much earlier in the day. "De Gea was very affected because he really wanted to come to Real Madrid," Perez said. "At 13.30, Manchester United already had the contracts. We sent the contracts to Manchester United at 13.30 and they took eight hours until they sent back the papers. We don't understand why they took eight hours to see the contracts and we don't understand that if they wanted to negotiate, they waited until the last moment.” Perez insists his relationship with the English club has always been “good”, yet feels his Premier League counterparts lacked experience in this negotiation, having endured a similar situation with various other players in the past. "Our relationship with Manchester United is good,” he said. "We do not understand many things, but I'm not here to blame anyone. They [Manchester United] lack experience, because this same thing happened last year to [Fabio] Coentrao and Ander Herrera [with Athletic]."

Former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp says the current Liverpool team is the worst he has seen in years, labelling the Merseysiders "bang average". The Reds started the season with wins over Stoke City and newly promoted Bournemouth before drawing with Arsenal and losing 3-0 to West Ham at Anfield last time out. “I don’t fancy Liverpool at all,” Redknapp said. “I think it’s the worst Liverpool team I have seen in years. They look bang average. They are lucky to have any points. Bournemouth should have beaten them, they got a wonder goal at Stoke. OK, they played all right first-half at Arsenal. I think they will do well to finish in the top five. I am not with Liverpool at all this year. Having said that they will probably win the league!”  Redknapp went on to criticise the make-up of Brendan Rodgers' outfit. “They lost Steven Gerrard, their leader. What a player. They lost Jamie Carragher the year before. They’ve lost their characters,” he added. “Look at the two centre-halves on Saturday (Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel). The left-back (Joe Gomez) is a good young player who can’t kick with his left foot but he is playing at left-back. He’s a fantastic talent, strong, quick. But what will he give you on the left? He is on the wrong side. They look a badly balanced team to me. Sorry, I can’t have Liverpool.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger feels Manchester United's big-money signing of Anthony Martial illustrates the dearth of world-class talent on the market. The Gunners were the only team in the top five European leagues not to enlist an outfield player in the summer transfer window, with goalkeeper Petr Cech the sole arrival at the Emirates Stadium. By contrast title rivals United spent heavily, culminating in the £36million acquisition of 19-year-old Martial, who has become the world's most expensive teenager. "What happened last night with Monaco, who sold Martial to Manchester United for 80 million euros - Martial scored 11 goals in the French championship - that sums it up well," Wenger said. "That means it's not the money that's missing at the moment, it's not the desire of investment that is missing, it's the number of players available who can strengthen the big clubs." The Frenchman has been widely criticised for his lack of transfer activity, but insists it is difficult to source suitable recruits. "Am I happy with the investment I make? Yes, every time," he said. "I bought (Alexis) Sanchez, I bought (Mesut) Ozil, I bought Cech, I bought Gabriel last year but when you have to invest you have to find the players to invest in. The problem at the moment is finding the players that guarantee you are a better team afterwards."

Bulgarian striker Dimitar Berbatov has joined Greek club PAOK on a one-year deal. “PAOK FC announce the signing of Dimitar Berbatov who penned a deal with the “Double-Headed Eagle” until 30.6.2016,” read a statement on the club’s official website. The 34-year-old, who has turned out for Premier League clubs Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur and Fulham, spent last season with Ligue 1 side Monaco, netting 18 goals in 53 matches, before being released by the French club. In total, Berbatov has scored 274 goals in 635 appearances across all clubs in his illustrious career, with 48 goals in 78 national caps to his name. Berbatov arrives in Greece with an impressive CV, having lifted two Premier League titles, two Community Shields, a FIFA Club World Cup and the Bulgarian Cup, while he was also crowned as the Premier League’s Golden Boot winner in 2010/11 with 20 goals. PAOK will hope to utilise Berbatov’s experience to improve their third-place finish in the Greek League last season, having last won their domestic League in the 1984/85 season.

Former Mexico and Real Madrid great Hugo Sanchez has described Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal as a “scoundrel” for the manner in which he treated former striker Javier Hernandez. Chicharito, who has now signed for German club Bayer Leverkusen, returned from his loan spell at Real Madrid and was included in United’s squad that did battle against Club Brugge in their UEFA Champions League qualifier last week. The Mexican, who had not scored for the Red Devils in 17 months, had the ideal chance to do so from the penalty spot in that encounter, yet missed the target as he fell while taking the spot-kick, with coach van Gaal caught on camera giving assistant Ryan Giggs an ominous stare following the miss which many felt spelt the end of the 27-year-old’s future at Old Trafford. Sanchez, who earned over 50 caps for Mexico between 1977 and 1994 and featured in over 200 games for Madrid, feels van Gaal’s reaction was unjustified, feeling that it was an unacceptable way for a coach to react to his player’s error. “Van Gaal made a bad decision – and it's not one he's done for the first time, he's done it 50,000 times," Sanchez said. "I've coached and a coach cannot do that to their own player. I'd go out and applaud him and tell him to trust in himself. But that look he gave Giggs… What a scoundrel. It was a bad game for Chicharito but any player in the world can do that. Van Gaal is a scoundrel; hopefully those in England realise he is a bad person and treats his players poorly. He should be professional. The players deserve professional and humane treatment."

West Brom manager Tony Pulis says striker Saido Berahino needs to grow up following his controversial transfer saga on deadline day. Tottenham Hotspur were keen admirers of the 22-year-old, with the striker himself trying to force a move - despite his club rejecting four bids for the talented forward – by sending out a tweet on deadline day which read: "I can officially say I will never play (West Brom chairman) Jeremy Peace". Despite his statement, and the fact that he has not played in almost a month for West Brom, coach Pulis says he still backs the striker, although admits he has a lot of maturing to do. "Saido's problem has been how he he's gone about it,” the West Brom manager said. “I spoke to Saido and told him not to get involved in anything else but football but again, unfortunately, he didn't listen. By handing in a transfer request, he only antagonised the whole situation. Respect has to be earned and Saido has to learn that lesson. West Brom have nurtured Saido's career for over a decade, they deserve the utmost respect and at times unwillingly he has shown them little. He has to grow up and wise up to the fact that people at West Brom have supported him right from the beginning of his career.” Pulis also admitted it will be hard for the Burundi-born frontman to feel part of the team again following his declaration, but insists he will play for the club again.

Claudio Pizarro has joined German club Werder Bremen from Bundesliga rivals Bayern Munich in what will be his third stint at the Weserstadion. The Peruvian striker first donned the Bremen shirt between 1999 and 2001 before joining Munich, while marking his return to the The Green Whites in 2008 after failing to reach his best at Premier League outfit Chelsea. The veteran rejoined the Bavarians before the start of the 2012/13 season, and after failing to renew his contract at the Allianz Arena, has now signed a one-year deal with Bremen. The 36-year-old, who has six Bundesliga titles, five German Cups and a Champions League winners medal to his name from his time with Bayern, won the 2009 German Cup with Bremen, and has scored an impressive 127 goals in 220 matches in his previous two stints with the club, including 44 assists. Pizarro, who has 72 national caps to his name, is the Bundesliga’s record foreign goal-scorer, and will be reunited with coach Viktor Skrypnyk, who was his team-mate at Bremen when he first joined 16 years ago.

Italy coach Antonio Conte has slammed critics of playmaker Andrea Pirlo, insisting the veteran deserves more respect. The 36-year-old, who now turns out for MLS side New York City FC following four successful seasons at Juventus, was heavily criticised for his display in Italy’s 1-0 victory over Malta in their Euro qualifier last week Thursday. He was subsequently benched in the Azzurri’s 1-0 win over Bulgaria on Sunday, yet despite relegating him to the bench, head coach Conte feels the maestro deserves much more respect from his doubters. "What really disappoints me is the lack of respect from some towards an immense player like Pirlo," Conte said. "He deserves more respect in every way. Pirlo cannot be considered irreplaceable one day and the next ready for the scrapheap."

Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has hit out at Spanish fans for whistling at defender Gerard Pique in their 2-0 defeat of Slovakia in Oviedo. The Barcelona defender was jeered by sections of the home supporters, who voiced their disapproval of the player’s support of the Catalan referendum, with the Spanish state looking to gain independence from the European nation. Fans want Pique to be excluded from the national team based on his political view, yet La Furia Roja’s head coach has blasted the supporters for whistling at their own player on home soil. “This does not benefit us. He wants the national team to work well, and he has my esteem,” Del Bosque was quoted as saying on Spanish radio. It is unpleasant. I find it disgraceful that a player of the national team is being booed, and I hope this doesn't happen again."