International News - Issue 296

Guardiola To Replace Pellegrini At Manchester City

Manchester City have announced the exit of current boss Manuel Pellegrini at the end of the season, with Pep Guardiola confirmed as his replacement. “Manchester City can confirm that in recent weeks it has commenced and finalized contractual negotiations with Pep Guardiola to become MCFC Head Coach for the 2016/17 EPL season onwards,” read a statement on the club’s website. “The contract is for three years. These negotiations were a re-commencement of discussions that were curtailed in 2012. “Out of respect for Manuel Pellegrini and the players, the Club wishes to make its decision public to remove the unnecessary burden of speculation. “Manuel, who is fully supportive of the decision to make this communication, is entirely focused on achieving his targets for the season ahead and retains the respect and commitment of all involved with the leadership of the Club.” Pellegrini, who has won 64 out his 99 League games in charge of the Citizens, has the second-highest amount of wins as a Premier League coach in his first 99 games, just behind Jose Mourinho’s tally of 73. Carlo Ancelotti has already been named as Guardiola's successor at Bayern. Chelsea are now believed to be considering Pellegrini as a replacement for Mourinho, with interim manager Guus Hiddink in charge only until the summer. The Chilean is 63 in August but has made it clear he is not ready to retire yet and wants to continue managing in the Premier League. Pellegrini boasts the third best win ratio in Premier League - after Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson - and apart from Arsene Wenger is the only current top-flight manager who has won the title. It is understood he is already attracting interest, with Chelsea at the head of the queue.

Everton have signed Senegalese striker Oumar Niasse for £13.5million from Lokomotiv Moscow. The 25-year-old has penned a four-and-a-half-year deal on Merseyside, becoming the club's third most expensive signing after Romelu Lukaku (£28million) and Marouane Fellaini (£15million). Niasse, the Russian Premier League's player of the year in 2015, has scored 13 goals in 23 outings this season. "It's a great day for me, a big dream to play in the Premier League and a big dream to play for Everton," Niasse told evertontv. "Everton is one of the best teams in the Premier League and the Premier League is one of the best leagues in the world. "I know Everton is one of the big clubs here in England with history, the fans and the great players, so I'm very excited and happy to be here. "I started to watch Everton more since the beginning of October because I had heard about their interest. "I was interested to see how they play and how they have good young players. If you see players who are aged 20 or 21 and see them perform like that, you know you have a good coach. "The manager has said exactly what he wants. He believes I can be a player who can add something to the team," concluded Niasse, who was recruited by the Toffees as a replacement for Steven Naismith. Naismith was sold to Norwich for £8.5million earlier in the January transfer window.

Arsenal have loaned defender Mathieu Debuchy to Bordeaux until the end of the season. The 30-year-old was seeking more first team action to bolster his claims for a spot in France's Euro 2016 squad. Debuchy only made seven appearances for the Gunners this campaign, having joined the club from Newcastle in July 2014. The former Lille man, who has 27 international caps, will wear jersey number 24 for Les Girondins.

Everton boss Roberto Martinez claims former Bafana Bafana captain Steven Pienaar was racially abused over the weekend. The Toffees beat Carlisle United in an FA Cup fourth round tie, but the victory was marred by the alleged abuse handed out to ‘Schillo’ and Ivorian international Aroune Kone. “When we scored the goal, Arouna Kone and Steven Pienaar were celebrating,” Martinez is quoted in The Daily Express.  “A very, very small minority in the back of the stand behind the goal made some racial remarks. As you know, there is no sort of room for that type of behaviour. But I must stress it was a very small minority. “I want to believe that it was just an emotional reaction to the disappointment of conceding a goal. It was handled very well by Lee Mason.”

Stoke City have shattered their transfer record to sign Giannelli Imbula for £18.3million from FC Porto. The midfielder has penned a five-and-a-half-year contract at the Britannia Stadium. Potters manager Mark Hughes is confident the 23-year-old will add value to his squad. "Giannelli is a good young player. He has great power, good ability on the ball and a great range of passing and there's no doubt he will add to the quality that we already have at the club. "He played against us in pre-season and although I was already aware of him, seeing him at first hand resonated with me." Imbula, who started his career at Guingam, joined Porto in a £15.1m deal from Marseille seven months ago. He has played for the France Under-21 team, but could also represent Belgium. Stoke's previous record deal was winger Xherdan Shaqiri, who cost £12m in the summer.

Chelsea coach Guus Hiddink has already described it as “the final before the final” as the Blues were paired with Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup. The draw took place immediately after Chelsea’s 5-1 drubbing of MK Dons, and sees the London club take on the Citizens, who have won four of their previous five FA Cup clashes against the Blues. In a repeat of the 2014 final, holders Arsenal host Hull City, with the Gunners looking for their third successive title, aiming to become the first team to win the oldest club football competition three times in a row since the 1870s. In an entertaining all-Premier League affair, in-form Tottenham Hotspur play Crystal Palace, while it will be a clash of the only two South Africans playing their trade in the EPL as Tokelo Rantie’s Bournemouth were drawn against Steven Pienaar’s Everton.

Long-standing Chelsea stalwart John Terry has revealed this will be his last season in the Premier League. The 35-year-old defender, who has spent the last 18 years at Stamford Bridge, has not been offered a new contract in London, and will leave the club at the end of the current campaign. Speaking after his side’s 5-1 drubbing of MK Dons, Terry revealed he has not been asked to stay on, and will thus be leaving the reigning Premier League champions in June. “To be honest, I was in last week before the Arsenal game and it's not going to be extended,” Terry said of his current contract. “It's my last run in the FA Cup so I want to make it a good one. “It's a big season for me and I want to push on - not just in this competition but in the Premier League as well. I knew before the Arsenal game so mentally I've kind of accepted it. We just have to move on.” The former England international acknowledged that the club has taken a new direction, and is saddened by the fact that he won’t live out his dream of retiring at Chelsea, saying he will look elsewhere for a new club. "They said that when the new manager comes in, things might change. It's a no at the minute. I needed to know now like I have done every January and sometimes it takes a couple of months to get done. “Unfortunately it was a no,” he continued. “It's not going to be a fairytale ending, I'm not going to retire at Chelsea. It's going to be elsewhere which it took me a couple of days to get over. But like I say, I knew before the Arsenal game and my performance isn't going to change - the way I train, what I give for the club. I want to give everything and finish on a high, on 100 per cent good terms with the club.” Terry is the most successful Chelsea skipper in the club’s history, having lifted four Premier League titles, five FA Cups, three League Cups, a Champions League and a Europa League crown.

Spanish giants Real Madrid are on the verge of completing a record kit deal with sportswear brand Adidas that will eclipse any of its kind in the past. Reports from Spanish publication Marca suggest a new 10-year deal with the German brand has been agreed, which will see Los Blancos pocket a cool £106m (R2.4 billion) a year. The Galacticos has signed a new deal with the three-stripe brand in 2012, yet are reportedly signing off a new deal, which will come into effect as at the end of the current season, and last until 2026. The deal surpasses the mega £750m deal Adidas signed with Manchester United at the start of the current campaign – that 10-year deal sees the Red Devils earn £75m a year, a staggering £31 million less per year than what Madrid will pocket. The deal will put the la Liga side back on top of the most expensive kit sponsorship deals in the world, leapfrogging United, with Adidas-sponsored Bayern Munich in third – the Bavarians take home £60m per season on their current deal. To put it in perspective, Real Madrid's new kit deal will be worth more than Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool's combined. So quite literally, Madrid will wear the most expensive football shirt in the world.

Former Arsenal, Chelsea and Roma defender Ashley Cole has completed a move to MLS glamour club LA Galaxy. Cole left Serie A side Roma recently and was tipped to make the same move the likes of David Beckham and Steven Gerrard have made in the twilight of their European careers. The 35-year-old former England international has now made that switch. “Ashley is one of the world's most successful defenders and has played at the highest level of competition throughout his career,” said Galaxy head coach and general manager Bruce Arena. “He can provide our defence with valuable experience. We look forward to his contribution to our club this season.”

Former Manchester United centre-back Nemanja Vidic has announced his retirement from football. The Serbian, who made 56 appearances for his national team, last turned out for Italian side Inter Milan, who terminated his contract earlier this month after the defender had not featured for a single minute the entire season so far. The 34-year-old released a statement announcing his retirement on United’s official website. "The time has come for me to hang up my boots," he said. "The injuries I have had in the last few years have taken their toll. "I would like to thank all the players I have played with, all the managers and staff I have worked with, and say a big 'thank you' to the fans for their support over the years." Vidic spent eight successful years at Old Trafford since arriving from Spartak Moscow in 2006, making over 300 appearances for the Red Devils as he won five League titles and the 2008 Uefa Champions League.

Reigning Premier League champions Chelsea have confirmed the departure of Brazilian midfielder Ramires. “Ramires has today joined Chinese Super League club Jiangsu Suning in a permanent transfer,” read a statement on the club’s official website. The 28-year-old spent five-and-a-half years at Stamford Bridge, arriving from Portuguese side Benfica in 2010, and notched up 251 appearances for the Blues, scoring 34 goals. In that time, the Selecao international won one Premier League title, an FA Cup, the Europa League and Champions League. It is believes Ramires has signed a long-term deal with Jiangsu Suning worth £25million.

Chelsea have confirmed the signing of Brazilian international forward Alexandre Pato on a six-month loan deal from Corinthians. The club have officially unveiled Pato as a Chelsea player after the versatile attacker penned a six-month loan agreement on Friday evening. The 26-year-old has described the move as 'a dream' and revealed his delight to join the London side, while also thanking the club for having faith in signing him. "I am so happy to sign for Chelsea. It is a dream for me. I am looking forward to meeting and getting to know my new team-mates and cannot wait to play," Pato told the club's official website. "I thank Chelsea for their support and hope I can repay this faith to the club and its fans."

Crystal Palace have signed former Tottenham Hotspur striker Emmanuel Adebayor. Adebayor was a free agent following his release from Spurs in September last year. The Togolese forward has penned a deal with the Eagles until the end of the season. Adebayor, who has also played for Arsenal, Manchester City and Real Madrid, will wear the No.25 shirt at Selhurst Park. The 31-year-old has netted 96 goals in the Premier League.

Ivorian attacker Gervinho has completed his move from Roma to newly promoted Hebei China Fortune FC. The Chinese Super League club are believed to have forked out between €15 million and €18m for the 28-year-old's services. Gervinho, who boasts 71 caps for the AFCON holders, had been a key performer for Roma following his arrival in Italy from Arsenal in 2013. Gervinho scored seven goals and provided two assists in 17 appearances in all competitions for the Serie A outfit this season. The Chinese topflight season begins in March.

West Ham have confirmed the signing of the Nigeria centre-forward Emmanuel Emenike from Fenerbahce on loan for the rest of the season. The 28-year-old hopes to have an instant impact for Slaven Bilic’s squad, having known the manager from his spells coaching in Russia and Turkey. “I have always known West Ham as a great club. I have always been watching them. West Ham’s a great club and I am very, very happy and very, very excited that I am here,” Emenike told West Ham TV. “I’ve known him [Bilic] for years. When he was at Lokomotiv Moscow I was at Spartak Moscow, then he came to Besiktas and I was in Fenerbahce, so we have known each other for a long time. I’m happy to be here and happy to play for him. “We have followed each other’s careers and thank God we are here today and we are here together.” Emenike added: “The Premier League is the best in the world. It is everyone’s dream to come and play here. I am excited to be here. “But it is not always just about the player. It is teamwork and it is all about us as a team. I am here to play with the team and work with the team.” Emenike, capped 37 times by Nigeria, spent part of this season on loan at the Arabian Gulf League side Al-Ain in the United Arab Emirates. The Hammers have the option to make the transfer permanent in the summer and the forward will provide options for Bilic with Andy Carroll sidelined again by injury.