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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Barcelona sign Arsenal's Vermaelen in five-year deal

Sports Shorts: Barcelona sign Arsenal's Vermaelen in five-year deal

Last updated on: August 11, 2014 15:54 IST

Sports Shorts: Barcelona sign Arsenal's Vermaelen in five-year deal

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Barcelona signed Arsenal's Belgium international defender Thomas Vermaelen on a five-year contract on Sunday.

The Spanish club had been battling against Manchester United for the Belgium international's signature over the last few weeks and Luis Enrique's team got their man for a reported fee of 15 million pounds.

Arsenal issued a statement on its website confirming that Thomas Vermaelen has agreed to join Barcelona in a permanent transfer for an undisclosed fee.

The statement further said Vermaelen passed his medical in Barcelona on Saturday, adding his transfer is subject to the completion of the normal regulatory process.

- NEXT: McIlroy wins PGA Championship


Image: FC Barcelona Sport Director Andoni Zubizarreta (left) and FC Barcelona Vice-President Jordi Mestre as Thomas Vermaelen is unveiled as a new player for FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou stadium on Sunday
Photographs: David Ramos/Getty Images

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McIlroy lives up to billing, wins PGA Championship

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Pre-tournament favourite Rory McIlroy recovered from a stumbling start to overcome a series of challengers and clinch his fourth major title by a shot at the PGA Championship on Sunday.

A stroke in front of the chasing pack overnight, the Northern Irish world number one lost the lead but regained control after the turn, signing off with a three-under-par 68 at Valhalla Golf Club for a 16-under total of 268.

Phil Mickelson, the 2005 winner, birdied 18 to finish alone in second with a closing 66, with Swede Henrik Stenson (66) and American Rickie Fowler (68) a stroke further back in third.

"I didn't think in my wildest dreams I'd have a summer like this," British Open champion McIlroy told CBS Sports after being presented with the coveted Wanamaker Trophy, which he hoisted high in celebration.

"I've just played the best golf of my life and just really gutted it out today. It was a little different from the previous major wins that I've had and I think I showed a lot of guts out there today to get this job done."

Trailing by three at one point, McIlroy got within a stroke of the lead with a spectacular eagle at the par-five 10th where he hit his second shot from 281 yards to seven feet, before effectively sealing the title with birdies at the 13th and 17th.

In gathering gloom at Valhalla, where play was suspended for just under two hours earlier in the day due to water-logged conditions, McIlroy parred the last to win his third consecutive title on the PGA Tour, and his second major this year.

- NEXT: 'I kind of ran out of steam there after 12'


Image: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland poses with the Wanamaker trophy after his one-stroke victory during the final round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club in Louisville, Kentucky, on Sunday
Photographs: Warren Little/Getty Images

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'I kind of ran out of steam there after 12'

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The 25-year-old, who won the 2012 PGA Championship at Kiawah by a record eight shots, became the fourth youngest player to land four majors, with only Tom Morris Jr., Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods ahead of him.

Mickelson, who had been bidding for a sixth major title, recorded his first top-10 finish on the 2013-14 PGA Tour after a disappointing season.

"It was good for me to get back in the mix and to feel the pressure and get in the thick of it," said the American left-hander.

"I kind of ran out of steam there after 12, wasn't able to get a couple of birdies coming in like I needed to."

With birdies abundant on a receptive, rain-softened layout, the galleries were treated to a breathtaking display of shot-making in the final round.

However, the late starters faced a race against darkness in their bid to finish the 96th PGA Championship on Sunday.

Play was halted just before noon as heavy rain swept across the par-71 Valhalla layout, leaving rivers of water on several fairways and pools covering many greens.

Roughly an inch of rain had saturated the course by the time play resumed at 2:44 p.m. (7.44 p.m. BST), and with dusk fast approaching a Monday finish seemed likely.

- NEXT: McIlroy picked up his first shot of the day at the seventh


Image: Phil Mickelson of the United States reacts on the tenth green during the final round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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McIlroy picked up his first shot of the day at the seventh

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One ahead going into the final round, McIlroy ran up a three-putt bogey at the par-three third to slip to 12 under, level with Mickelson and Austrian Bernd Wiesberger.

Moments later it became a five-way tie at the top when Fowler birdied the fourth and Stenson the fifth.

Fowler seized the lead with a spectacular chip-in for birdie from just off the right edge of the green at the fifth, but was caught soon after by Mickelson and Stenson.

An up-and-down birdie at the seventh put Fowler one ahead again but the lead did not last long as Stenson soon joined him, draining a 27-footer at the ninth.

McIlroy, who had bogeyed the sixth after finding a bunker with his approach, picked up his first shot of the day at the seventh, hitting a delicate chip from beside a bunker to four feet and sinking the putt.

Out in one-over par 36, McIlroy eagled the 10th, narrowly missed birdie putts at 11 and 12 before sinking a five-footer at the 13th to join Mickelson and Fowler in a tie for the lead at 15 under.

Fowler dropped back with a bogey at 14, and Mickelson dropped his only shot of the day at the 16th before McIlroy effectively made the title safe when he rolled in a 10-foot birdie putt on the 17th green.

- NEXT: 'Importing players is killing English football'


Image: Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland hits a shot from a greenside bunker on the 18th hole during the final round of the 96th PGA Championship at Valhalla Golf Club on Sunday
Photographs: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

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Importing players is killing English football and Premier League, feels Neville

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Gary Neville, former Manchester United and England footballer is of the view that the top Premier League clubs are killing English football with too many foreign imports.

According to the Mirror, the England coach reckons Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal should promote young stars like Michael Keane, James Wilson and Tyler Blackett -- rather than raid the transfer market for continental stars.

He said 25 years ago, Liverpool had Irish and Scottish players while United had Scottish players, Irish players, Welsh players, adding all the top four, five and six teams did -- but now there's none in the top six.

Neville said that there are a few English players, but they're dwindling fast.

- NEXT: Ten-man Monaco lose home opener Ligue 1


Image: Gary Neville
Photographs: Hitish Harisinghani/Rediff.com

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Ligue 1: Ten-man Monaco lose home opener

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Last season's runners-up Monaco made a disappointing start to the new Ligue 1 campaign with a 2-1 defeat at home to Lorient on Sunday with the absence of the sold James Rodriguez all too obvious.

Lorient opened the scoring through Vincent Aboubakar's ninth minute penalty and although Radamel Falcao hit back with a spot kick of his own on 78 minutes, Valentin Lavigne grabbed the winner three minutes from time.

Monaco also had defender Ricardo Carvalho sent off in the 67th minute for a second yellow card.

The principality club, who under Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev splashed out more than 100 million euros ($134 million) on transfers last year, finished last season nine points adrift of Paris St Germain but still qualified automatically for this term's Champions League.

Olympique Lyonnais won 2-0 at home to Stade Rennes in their season opener, midfielder Steed Malbranque putting them ahead in the 64th minute and Alexandre Lacazette adding a penalty.

Big-spending champions PSG drew their first league match of the new campaign on Friday when they were held 2-2 at Stade de Reims with Zlatan Ibrahimovic scoring twice but missing a penalty.

- NEXT: Schone brace gives Ajax winning start


Image: Monaco's Ricardo Silveira De Carvalho (centre) challenges Lorient's Raffidine Abdullah (left) and Raphael Guerreiro during their French Ligue 1 soccer match at Louis II stadium in Monaco on Sunday
Photographs: Eric Gaillard/Reuters

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Schone brace gives Ajax winning start to record quest

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Larse Schone scored twice as champions Ajax Amsterdam made a winning start in their bid to win an unprecedented fifth successive Dutch league title by beating Vitesse Arnhem 4-1 on Sunday.

Last season’s runners-up Feyenoord needed a last minute goal to win 1-0 away at ADO Den Haag in a match which featured a Dutch league record 13 cautions.

Fellow potential title challengers PSV Eindhoven were 3-1 victors at newcomers Willem II Tilburg while Groningen came from 2-0 down to win 3-2 at Go Ahead Eagles.

Schone converted a free-kick just after halftime and added his second right near the end of the game. Debutant Nick Viergever opened the scoring for Ajax before halftime and Mike van der Hoorn headed home the third of the day from Schone’s corner in a somewhat flattering result for the champions.

Substitute Mitchell te Vrede scored in the 90th minute to give Feyenoord’s new coach Fred Rutten a winning start after taking over from Ronald Koeman.

Den Haag were down to 10 men from before halftime when Mitchell Schet was sent off for a second bookable offence.

Memphis Depay, who only returned to training last week from a post-World Cup holiday, scored twice for PSV who went two-up after 10 minutes.

Jarchinio Antonia, playing against his former club, scored a dramatic winner for Groningen who were 2-0 down early in the second half but conjured up a dramatic recovery.

NEXT: NASCAR champ Stewart kills dirt-track driver


Image: Lasse Schone of Ajax
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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NASCAR champ Stewart kills dirt-track driver, no charges pending

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Veteran NASCAR champion Tony Stewart retreated from competition on Sunday after he struck and killed an aggrieved young driver walking on a dirt track in a low-stakes race, in an incident highlighting the risks and bravado around car racing.

Authorities in New York state said that they had found no evidence of criminal behavior and that Stewart, a tempestuous racer and one of the highest-paid drivers in NASCAR, was cooperating with investigations into Saturday night's death.

Earlier in the day, the 43-year-old Stewart withdrew from Sunday's high-profile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Watkins Glen, New York, but only after a storm of criticism on social media when a team official told reporters that Stewart was proceeding with "business as usual."

Ontario County Sheriff Philip Povero said no evidence of criminal intent had been found in the death of driver Kevin Ward Jr., 20.

"At this very moment, there are no facts in hand that would substantiate or support a criminal charge, or indicate criminal intent on the part of any individual," Povero told a news conference.

In the low-stakes race at Canandaigua Motorsports Park, about 25 miles (40 km) southeast of Rochester, Stewart appeared to have clipped Ward's car and caused it to spin out of the race, according to videos posted online.

Ward, of Port Leyden, New York, stepped out of his car and onto the track as he seemed to gesture at Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion, before he was struck and killed, according to the videos.

The crash occurred on a dimly lit section of track and the race was under a yellow flag, or caution, Povero said.

Ward was pronounced dead at a hospital. WSYR-TV in Syracuse reported that Ward's family was at the track at the time of the crash.

- NEXT: ‘We are racing with heavy hearts today’


Image: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Code 3 / Mobil 1 Chevrolet
Photographs: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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'We are racing with heavy hearts today'

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“There aren’t words to describe the sadness I feel about the accident that took the life of Kevin Ward Jr.," Stewart said in a statement.

Stewart, of Columbus, Indiana, is NASCAR's fourth-highest paid driver, with an estimated $17.3 million in earnings this year, according to Forbes.

His sponsors include Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1, Coca-Cola and Chevrolet. Stewart co-owns Stewart-Hass Racing, a four-car outfit whose drivers include female standout Danica Patrick.

A.J. Allmendinger, the winner of Sunday's NASCAR event, offered condolences to the Ward family.

“We are racing with heavy hearts today," he said on the ESPN television network.

Ricky Craven, an ESPN analyst and former NASCAR Cup driver, said on ESPN he thought a rule was needed that a driver would be penalized if he or she left a car before a security crew arrived.

He added that there was a 50-50 chance that Stewart would compete next week at NASCAR's Pure Michigan 400.

- NEXT: Lochte holds off Phelps in thrilling 200 IM duel


Image: Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, sits in his car in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Cheez-It 355 at Watkins Glen International on Friday
Photographs: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

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Lochte holds off Phelps in thrilling 200 IM duel

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Ryan Lochte held off a fast-finishing Michael Phelps to win the 200 meters individual medley at the U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California on Sunday.

Trailing by almost a second and a half at one point, Phelps displayed his famous finishing kick and nearly made up the deficit in the final 50 meters to bring the crowd to its feet.

Lochte, the world record holder in the event, touched first in a time of 1:56.50, just ahead of Phelps in 1:56.55.

“We both hate to lose but we enjoy racing each other,” Phelps told reporters. “Hopefully we can push each other and see what happens.”

For Phelps, the result was a positive sign that his comeback from retirement is on the right track.

In the most significant meet since Phelps launched his comeback in May, the 18-times Olympic champion finished seventh in the 100m freestyle on Wednesday and second in the 100m butterfly on Friday.

The meet is also serving as a qualifier for the Pan Pac Championships in Australia later this month.

Phelps was slow out of the blocks and ceded control to Lochte, who was on world record pace over the first 50. But Phelps turned on the afterburners down the stretch of his finishing freestyle, bringing back memories of previous dramatic wins during his storied career.

Five-time Olympic gold medalist Lochte earned his first medal of the meet. The face of U.S. men’s swimming after Phelps retired, Lochte has been working on a comeback of his own. He was competing in his second meet since tearing his MCL earlier in the year.

“This year has been up and down but I’m glad I got a win, it feels good,” Lochte said. “I haven’t been in the water because of my knee, and haven’t done the work I’ve wanted to. But there are two years left until (the Rio Olympics).”

Phelps, too, is building form for what is expected to be a return to Olympic competition in 2016.


Image: Ryan Lochte
Photographs: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

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Phelps makes U.S. squad for Pan Pacific Championships

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Michael Phelps overcame the first hurdle to a potential return to Olympic competition in 2016 when he was named along with exciting teenagers Katie Ledecky and Missy Franklin on the U.S. team for the Pan Pacific Championships on Sunday.

Phelps' qualification for the August 21-24 championships on Australia's Gold Coast has also earned the winner of 18 Olympic gold medals a ticket to next year's world championships in Kazan, Russia.

His fellow Olympic champions Allison Schmitt, Natalie Coughlin and Katie Hoff, however, failed to make the team for the Pan Pacific championships in Australia.

The trio failed to make the top three in any of their individual events at the U.S. National Championships in Irvine, California and were not included in the 60-strong squad that also earned selection for next year's world championships.

Phelps, who came out of retirement in May after quitting the sport following the 2012 London Olympics with 22 medals in total, was using the national championships to determine whether he would push through to Rio.

He qualified for the 100 metres butterfly and 200m individual medley at the championships.

Ledecky, who qualified in the 200m, 400m and 800m freestyle, set a world record in the 400m in Irvine, her third record swim inside six weeks. She broke the 800m and 1500m freestyle records at a meeting in Texas in June.

Franklin, who won four golds at the London Olympics, qualified for four individual events in the 100m and 200m freestyle and 100m and 200m backstroke.

The men's team will also include Olympic gold medalists Nathan Adrian, Tyler Clary, Matt Grevers and 2000 Olympic champion Anthony Ervin.

The women's group will feature up-and-comers like Simone Manuel in the absence of the missing Olympic trio.

Coughlin won the 2004 and 2008 Olympic 100m backstroke, Schmitt won five medals in London, including three gold, while Hoff won three medals at 400m freestyle and medley and a 200m relay in Beijing in 2008.

U.S. squad:

Men: Nathan Adrian, Tyler Clary, Kevin Cordes, Conor Dwyer, Matt Ellis, Anthony Ervin, Jimmy Feigen, Nic Fink, Andrew Gemmell, Matt Grevers, Connor Jaeger, Cullen Jones, Chase Kalisz, Ryan Lochte, Reed Malone, Cody Miller, Michael McBroom, Matt McLean, Alex Meyer, Ryan Murphy, Jacob Pebley, Michael Phelps, Tim Phillips, David Plummer, Josh Prenot, Sean Ryan, Tom Shields, Nick Thoman, Michael Weiss, Jordan Williamovsky

Women: Cammile Adams, Haley Anderson, Kathleen Baker, Rachel Bootsma, Elizabeth Beisel, Lisa Bratton, Claire Donahue, Maya DiRado, Eva Fabian, Hali Flickinger, Missy Franklin , Jessica Hardy, Christine Jennings, Breeja Larson, Micah Lawrence, Katie Ledecky, Felicia Lee, Caitlin Leverenz, Madeline Locus, Becca Mann, Simone Manuel, Melanie Margalis, Ivy Martin, Katie McLaughlin, Elizabeth Pelton, Cierra Runge, Leah Smith, Kendyl Stewart, Shannon Vreeland, Abbey Weitzeil.


Image: Michael Phelps
Photographs: Clive Rose / Getty Images

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