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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: 'English footballers afraid to leave home'

Sports Shorts: 'English footballers afraid to leave home'

Last updated on: July 16, 2014 21:14 IST

Allegri takes over as Juventus coach

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Former AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri has been appointed as the new manager of Juventus following Tuesday's shock resignation of Antonio Conte, the Serie A club said on Wednesday.

"Allegri is the new manager of Juventus,” the Italian champions said on their official Twitter feed.

Italian media report that Allegri has signed a two-year deal that will earn him two million euros ($2.71 million) a season plus bonuses.

Conte made the surprise announcement that he was leaving Juve on Tuesday after winning three straight Serie A titles during his three years in charge.

The former midfielder could take the Italy manager's post left vacant by Cesare Prandelli, who stepped down as national team boss after a terrible World Cup campaign in which his side were eliminated following the group stage.

Allegri was sacked by Milan midway through last season after a dreadful start to the campaign that left them languishing in mid-table, and was replaced by Clarence Seedorf in January after more than a year of speculation surrounding his position.

His arrival could cause friction with Andrea Pirlo after Allegri sold the gifted playmaker to Juve in 2011 while in charge of Milan, convinced that he could no longer play in his favoured position in front of the defence.

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Image: Massimiliano Allegri
Photographs: Claudio Villa/Getty Images

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Barca director defends Luis Suarez over biting scandal

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Barcelona sports director Andoni Zubizarreta defended new signing Luis Suarez over his World Cup biting scandal on Wednesday, saying that nobody was perfect.

Suarez joined the Catalan club in a five-year-deal last week from Liverpool despite receiving a nine-match international ban and a four-month suspension from all football related activities for biting Giorgio Chiellini in Uruguay’s group stage clash with Italy.

 “We accept that we are all humans and that we have our imperfections. We try to learn from when we make mistakes,” said Zubizarreta.

 “Our history is full of bad days as well as good days. Luis Suarez will be a star at Barcelona although Barcelona is more important than one player.”

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Image: Luis Suarez of Uruguay and Giorgio Chiellini of Italy react after a clash during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
Photographs: Matthias Hangst/Getty Images

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'Suarez is a Barcelona player'

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Suarez, who cost 81 million euros ($110 million) according to Spanish media, has yet to be presented at the Nou Camp due to the ban, which Barca are appealing against.

“Luis Suarez is a Barcelona player but aside from that we have been told by our lawyers to be discreet," said Zubizarreta.

Zubizarreta added that signing a defender before the end of the transfer window remained a priority for the club. They have brought in keepers Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Claudio Bravo but have yet to sign a defender.

Last season Barcelona struggled at the back and failed to win any major trophy.

“This is a necessity for us. Last year we had a good nucleus of centre-halves but (the now retired Carles) Puyol is no longer with us and we will try to cover his loss. Hopefully we will have good news soon," said Zubizarreta.

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Image: Luis Suarez
Photographs: Carlos Barria/Reuters

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Mathieu could join Barca

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Barca are believed to be close to agreeing a deal with Valencia for Jeremy Mathieu.

"Valencia received our proposal and now they have to make a decision,” said Zubizarreta.

“It is a problem for 80 or 90 percent of the big clubs who are looking for players in this position. On certain occasions we have not been able to arrive at agreements that we wanted."

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Image: Jeremy Mathieu
Photographs: Heino Kalis/Reuters

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Sports Shorts: 'English footballers afraid to leave home'

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Former Arsenal and Chelsea defender Ashley Cole says English players are afraid of leaving their comfort zone and playing overseas.

The former England international has joined Serie A side AS Roma on a two-year deal after eight trophy-laden years at Chelsea, having spent last season as second choice to Spaniard Cesar Azpilicueta.

"English players are probably afraid to come abroad, they're in a comfort zone in England," the 33-year-old told reporters at his first news conference in Rome on Tuesday.

"This is a chance for me to try a different language, culture and way of living."

Cole, who retired from international duty after Roy Hodgson did not include him in England's main 23-man World Cup squad, said he had a good relationship with Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho but it was clear the Portuguese did not see him as an integral part of the team anymore.

"As soon as I spoke to (Rudi) Garcia (Roma manager) and I saw how much they wanted me here at Roma I jumped at the chance," Cole said.

"I've always had a good relationship with Jose Mourinho but I was no longer useful to his project at Chelsea.

"I came here to play in the Champions League. Roma is an ambitious club, it's a challenge for me and I'm prepared to fight for my place."

- NEXT: ISL: Spain's World Cup winner Capdevila joins John Abraham's Guwahati franchise


Image: AS Roma's new player Ashley Cole attends a news conference for his presentation at the team's training centre in Rome
Photographs: Tony Gentile/Reuters

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ISL: Spain's World Cup winner Capdevila joins John Abraham's Guwahati franchise

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NorthEast United Football Club, the Guwahati franchise of the upcoming Indian Super League, on Wednesday named former World and European Championships winning Spanish defender Joan Capdevila as its marquee player.

Capdevila who marshalled the left back position for Spain, was a prominent member of the sides that won both the World Cup in 2010 and the European Championship in 2008.

He has played over 400 games with 36 goals in the Spanish La Liga for big guns like Espanyol, Atletico Madrid, Deportivo, and Villarreal.

The 36-year-old who played for La Liga Club Espanyol last season, said he is excited to join the club after speaking to team co-owner and Bollywood actor John Abraham.

The Guwahati franchise, becomes the second team after Atletico de Kolkata to name their marquee player.

The Kolkata franchise had announced former Barcelona and Liverpool midfielder Luis Garcia of Spain as their marquee player and Antonio Lopez Habas as their marquee manager earlier this month.

"At this stage, after winning everything which is there to win, a new challenge was needed. After speaking to John Abraham about the way he is passionately looking to promote football in India and the project of NorthEast United FC, it excited me to take up the challenge.

"India is a huge country and it should be a privilege for me to be a small part in popularising this global game here and working with the young talented footballers of North East India," Capdevila stated in a release.

Abraham also expressed his excitement in roping in the World Cup winner.

"We are confident that his achievements in the game and his presence in our team will motivate young Indian players and his inputs will help us build a strong in the future.

"Speaking with him when he was in Brazil, I got a sense of his passion for the game and specially his excitement about joining our team was motivational and unparalleled. We look forward to his arrival in India," Abraham said.

Lajong FC Managing Director and NorthEast United FC co-owner, Larsing Sawyan said, "This is the best thing that has happened to NorthEast United FC. A player of Capdevilla's calibre will definitely add impetus to our ambitions in the upcoming ISL.

"Football fans from the North East are already familiar with him and we believe the excitement of the ISL in North East has already reached a high level. We welcome Joan Capdevilla to NorthEast United FC and hope he can help us bring success both on and off the field."

Supported by the All India Football Federation, ISL is co-promoted by IMG-Reliance and Star India and is tentatively scheduled to be held from September 19 to November 30.

- NEXT: Pistorius 'lonely and alienated'


Image: Joan Capdevila
Photographs: Joern Pollex/Getty Images

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Pistorius 'lonely and alienated'

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South African Olympic and Paralympic track star Oscar Pistorius's decision to go to a night club while still on trial for murder was "unwise" but it was done because the 27-year-old is "lonely and alienated", his family said on Wednesday.

Pistorius was involved in an argument with businessman Jared Mortimer at a club in Johannesburg's upmarket Sandton business district over the weekend. Both men accuse each other of starting the altercation.

"Oscar is grappling with an extreme level of emotional pain that is manifesting itself in some of his recent unwise actions and choices," Pistorius' uncle Leo said in a statement.

"Those of us closest to him have been witness to his escalating sense of loneliness and alienation. This, we believe, is underlying some of his self-harming behaviour."

The athlete is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp, whom he shot and killed at his luxury Pretoria home on Valentine's Day last year.

Pistorius says he killed Steenkamp after mistaking her for an intruder hiding in the toilet next to his bedroom. The state accuses him of shooting her in cold blood after an argument.

His lawyers wrapped up their defence last week and the case was adjourned until Aug. 7 to allow the legal teams to prepare closing arguments.

- NEXT: 'Van Gaal can renew United challenge'


Image: Oscar Pistorius
Photographs: Herman Verwey-Pool/Getty Images

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'Van Gaal can renew United challenge'

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New manager Louis van Gaal can propel Manchester United back into Premier League contention after their dismal form of last season and excite the players again, former United skipper Bryan Robson said on Tuesday.

Robson, speaking a day before the Netherlands' World Cup coach Van Gaal arrives in Manchester to take up his new post, also said that the lack of European football at Old Trafford could help the team back to the top.

"You could see Holland were very well organised in the World Cup and there was discipline. Hopefully, he can bring that to Manchester. I think he will," Robson told BBC Sport.

"They can bounce back straight away. His CV is great. He's got great experience with top clubs and top players."

United finished a lowly seventh in the Premier League last season -- 22 points behind champions ManchesterCity -- under former Everton boss David Moyes who replaced long-standing manager Alex Ferguson.

"A lot of the players let themselves down (last season) and didn't perform the way they had under Sir Alex," said Robson, who spent 13 years at United and earned the nickname "Captain Marvel" for his driving performances in midfield.

"They will be up for the challenge and will be excited by the new coach."

- NEXT: 'It is an exciting challenge'


Image: Head coach Louis van Gaal looks on
Photographs: Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

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'It is an exciting challenge'

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In Brazil, Van Gaal made few references to his new job -- he signed a three-year contract with United in May -- but looked genuinely enthusiastic when he eventually spoke about his next assignment after last Saturday’s 3-0 win over Brazil in the third place playoff.

“It is an exciting challenge,” he told Dutch television.

It is a return to club football for Van Gaal for the first time since Bayern Munich sacked him in 2011.

Van Gaal has shown little of his hand yet with the pre-season signings of Ander Herrera from Athletic Bilbao and Luke Shaw from Southampton.

At Barcelona more than decade ago he was heavily criticised for creating a colony of Dutch players, but one of them says that is unlikely to happen at Old Trafford.

“There were seven players dominating the changing room, speaking Dutch and not moving out of our own bubble. It was a very unhealthy situation and I think Louis realised that. He won’t do it again,” Ronald de Boer, now an analyst on NOS television, predicted.

- NEXT: Costa joins Chelsea


Image: Former Manchester United player Ryan Giggs is now part of the coaching squad
Photographs: Manchester United on Twitter

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Spain's Costa signs five-year deal at Chelsea

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Chelsea's new striker Diego Costa, a 32 million pound ($54.87 million) signing from Atletico Madrid at the start of the month, has completed his transfer and signed a five-year deal, the Premier League club said on Tuesday.

"I am very happy to sign for Chelsea. Everybody knows it is a big club in a very competitive league, and I am very excited to get started in England with a fantastic coach and teammates," Costa, 25, was quoted as saying on the club's website (www.chelseafc.com).

"I know the high quality of the squad I am joining.

"I would like to thank everybody at Atletico who made me into the player I am. It was an incredible time for me, but now I am starting a new adventure and I hope to win many trophies with Chelsea."

Powerful and direct, the Brazilian-born striker built a strong reputation in Spain as a fine finisher, scoring 64 goals in 134 appearances for Atletico, and helping them to the Spanish title last season and the Champions League final.

- NEXT: Conte stuns Juventus with shock resignation

 


Image: Diego Costa
Photographs: Javier Barbancho/Reuters

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Nibali has tragic Pantani in mind as he eyes Tour title

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Vincenzo Nibali already has a decent set of Tour de France leader's yellow jerseys, but he has one put one aside for Marco Pantani's mother.

Should he prevail on the French roads, Nibali would become the first Italian rider to win the race since the late Pantani, the 1998 winner who died of a cocaine overdose 10 years ago.

"In spite of what happened to him, I would be very proud to succeed Pantani," Nibali told reporters in a hotel car park on the first rest day of the Tour, which he leads with a 2:23 advantage over Australian Richie Porte.

Spain's Alejandro Valverde is third, 2:47 off the pace, after compatriot Alberto Contador, twice a Tour winner, crashed out of the race on Monday.

"Pantani's mother had offered me one of his yellow jerseys so if I win this Tour I will bring one of my yellow jerseys to her," said Nibali.

The Italian, who is a great connoisseur of his sport's history ("I can talk to you about Gino Bartali and Fausto Coppi, but also about Bernard Hinault and Louison Bobet," he says), knows that the road to Paris is treacherous.

Although the Astana rider believes the hardest stage was Monday's trek to La Planche des Belles Filles, which he won to reclaim the yellow jersey, several traps lie ahead.

"The Tour seems easy now but it's when everything looks easy that it becomes the most difficult," he said.

"There are several riders who lie in wait," Nibali said, citing Valverde and Porte.

Frenchmen Romain Bardet and Thibaut Pinot are fourth and sixth respectively with a credible chance of a podium finish and possibly better, according to Nibali.

"We saw it with (Michal) Kwiatkowski yesterday, he went from afar and quickly opened a four-minute gap," said Nibali.

"We will not make the mistake of underestimating anyone. I made that mistake once, it was in the Vuelta last year and (Chris) Horner won."

His quest to become the sixth man to win all three grand tours continues on Wednesday with the 11th stage, a 187.5-km ride to Oyonnax featuring four short categorised climbs in the last 50 kilometres.

- NEXT: France's M'Vila signs for Inter Milan


Image: Vincenzo Nibali of Italy and Astana Pro Team poses for a picture with his team mates
Photographs: Warren Little - Velo/Getty Images

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France's M'Vila signs for Inter Milan

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France midfielder Yann M’Vila has signed for Inter Milan from Rubin Kazan, the Serie A club announced on Tuesday.

“Now it’s official: Yann M’Vila is an Inter player. He will be unveiled to the media on Saturday,” Inter said on their official Twitter feed.

The club are yet to announce the details of the deal, but the 24-year-old is likely to join on a year-long loan with Inter having the option to buy at the end of the season.

At the end of last month, M'Vila finished a 16-month ban from playing for France following an unauthorised night out while on international duty with his country's under-21 side.

M'Vila made 19 league appearances for Rubin Kazan last season as they finished ninth in the Russian Premier League.

- NEXT: Asafa Powell third on comeback

Image: Yann M'Vila of France
Photographs: Ian Walton/Getty Images

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Asafa Powell third on comeback after doping ban ends

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Jamaican sprinter Asafa Powell finished third on his return to 100m action at a meeting in Lucerne, the day after his reduced doping ban ended.

"It's good to be back. I've had a lot of stress and pressure over the last few months," said Powell after running 10.30 seconds behind compatriot Julian Forte in 10.23 and Antoine Adams of St Kitts and Nevis in 10.29.

"I haven't trained for three weeks. I need to come back bit by bit," he told reporters after the race on Tuesday.

The former world record holder was suspended, along with training partner Sherone Simpson, for 18 months by a Jamaica Anti-doping disciplinary panel after both tested positive for a banned stimulant.

They claimed the substance had been in a contaminated food supplement.

The suspension was reduced to six months on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) and expired on Monday.

Powell's last competitive outing came at the Lausanne Diamond League meeting in July last year.

- NEXT: Rosberg extends Mercedes contract

Image: Asafa Powell


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F1 title leader Rosberg extends Mercedes contract

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Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has signed a multi-year contract extension with Mercedes, the team said on Wednesday, announcing the new deal ahead of the German driver's home grand prix.

"I'm looking forward to the next years together, when we will keep pushing to win even more races - and, hopefully, championships," Rosberg said in a statement on the Mercedes F1 website.

Toto Wolf, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, said of Rosberg: "His speed, commitment and focus have all helped to give clear direction and to drive the team forward. He is one of the very top drivers in Formula One."

The championship this year is a duel between Rosberg and Mercedes team mate Lewis Hamilton, with Rosberg a slender four points ahead midway through the season.

- NEXT: Australia's Sullivan retires

Image: Nico Rosberg


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Australia's former sprint record holder Sullivan retires

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Former 100 metres freestyle world record holder Eamon Sullivan has retired from the pool following medical advice not to swim on to the 2016 Rio Olympics, Swimming Australia said on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old, who also held the 50m freestyle world record, pulled out of the Commonwealth Games with a shoulder injury last month.

Alhough he won a relay world title in Melbourne in 2007 and another in Shanghai four years later, Sullivan has battled a succession of injuries in recent years and finishes his career without an individual title at any of the major international meets.

"Eamon made his debut onto the Australian swim team as an 18-year-old in Athens and then 10 years later was able to take out the men's 50m freestyle at this year's Australian championships which was a remarkable achievement," Swimming Australia CEO Mark Anderson said in a statement.

"As an athlete he's been the world's best, which is what we are all striving for as part of the goal to be the best in the world in and out of the pool by 2020."

A triple Olympian, Sullivan announced himself in 2008 by eclipsing Russian Alexander Popov's 50m freestyle record at a local event and fought a thrilling duel with Frenchman Alain Bernard for the 100m record at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.


Image: Eamon Sullivan of Australia
Photographs: Quinn Rooney/Getty Images

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