Sunday, 25 July 2010

RUSSIA goalkeeper Igor ­Akinfeev has told Arsene Wenger: I’d love to team up with Andrey ­Arshavin at ­Arsenal.

CSKA Moscow star Akinfeev, 24, is a target for the Gunners and Manchester United after ­ impressive Champions League ­displays last season.

But Arsenal are the favourites to grab his signature after Emirates ace Arshavin gave the Gunners a glowing reference.


And Akinfeev said: “Arsenal and Manchester United are two of the very best clubs in the world.

“If both of them are going to be ­looking for keepers this ­summer – or even the next summer – then of course I am interested.

“I have spoken with Arshavin about Arsenal and ­London life.

“He has only had good things to say about the club and the city.
“He said some very nice things about me going on to be the best goalkeeper in the world – and that he would like me to reach that goal at Arsenal with him.

“They are a great club with a great manager. Of course there is every chance this will be the last season for Edwin Van der Sar.

“To be the No.1 for Manchester United would be a great honour too.

“They are the biggest football club in the world and, to be their No.1 for a length of time, you know you will have success.

“Juventus have also expressed ­an interest in me – but Arshavin has sold England to me very well.

“My contract doesn’t expire until 2013 but I have a great relationship with my president.

“If the right offer, both for me and the club came in, I don’t think ­anybody would stand in my way.

“I have been in Russia for a lot of years now and feel ready for a new challenge.”

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Football jersey Muslim should not wear  

Thursday, 22 July 2010

KOSMO! carried a report about Muslims who wittingly or unwittingly wear football jerseys which display images of crosses, liquor brands and devils.

Johor Religious Council adviser Datuk Nooh Gadot said wearing such jerseys were forbidden in Islam.

“It is as if Muslims are worshipping and exalting the symbols of other religions. Islam does not compromise on this matter, regardless of whether it is worn for fun, fashion or sport,” he said.

Perak Mufti Tan Sri Harussani Zakaria agreed with Nooh and said although Islam did not forbid its followers from participating in sports or dressing up, it has to be done within the boundaries of Islamic law.

Among the football teams whose crests carry images of the cross are Brazil, Portugal, Serbia, Barcelona and Norway, while Manchester United carries the “Red Devil” slogan on its team crest.

> Metro Ahad carried an expose on a “beautician” who performs botox injections and liposuction in a hotel room in the Klang Valley.

Two reporters went undercover as a couple and managed to set an appointment for a botox treatment with the “beautician”, named Lim.

The reporters described the room as cluttered with cases and bottles of botox and used needles strewn on the bed.

The price quoted for the services ranged between RM60 and RM800.

Lim, who claimed to be a doctor with five years’ experience, said the price is cheaper for a jab with shorter needle and more expensive for a jab with a long needle as the effect will last longer.

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EXCLUSIVE: Wenger weighing up move for Honda  

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Sport.co.uk understands that Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is considering a possible offer for Japanese international Keisuke Honda. Liverpool, however, who were previously linked with the player are yet to make any contact with the attacker's representatives.

The 24-year-old CSKA Moscow striker has been subject of intense speculation since his successful World Cup campaign with Japan although thus far no formal bids have been launched.

The Japanese international started his career at Gamba Osaka, the same club as former Arsenal player Junichi Inamoto, before moving onto Nagoya Grampus Eight, the club from whom Arsene Wenger joined the Gunners in 1996.

Moving to Russia in January, the player's star has continued to rise with agent Kees Ploegsma revealing to Sport.co.uk:

“A few clubs have contacted me about the situation and asked me questions about Keisuke but no club has made a serious offer for him. No one has contacted the club to make a formal offer.

Responding to suggestions that Arsenal and LIverpool were leading the chase, Ploegsma stressed:

“Liverpool have not been in contact regarding him.”

Asked if Arsene Wenger's praise of the player at the World Cup would leed to any movement on the part of the Arsenal coaching hierarchy, the representative continued:

“I don’t know yet. There are several clubs interested but so far nothing has happened regarding a formal offer.

"I don’t know if CSKA Moscow will let him leave, or what sort of money they will be asking. Discussions will take place when a club makes a formal offer for the player.”

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Arsenal - Sebastian Giovinco again linked with Emirates move  

Arsenal are once again being linked with a move for Serie ‘A’ star Sebastien Giovinco.

The 23-year-old has been linked with a move to the Emirates on several occasions over the past couple of years, and now Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is ready to move on his interest for Juve’s forgotten man.

A product of the youth team at the bianconeri, Giovinco made his debut in 2006 before building on his reputation during a season on loan at Empoli the following season.

On return to the Stadio Olimpico, Giovinco began to feature more in the side, but the addition of Werder Bremen playmaker Diego last summer coupled with the arrival of a new manager has seen Giovinco struggle to make a major impact on the first team.

Having lost his place in the Italian national setup, La Gazzetta dello Sport reports that the player is keen to gain first team action somewhere, news that has put the Gunners on alert over a possible switch.

Wenger faces competition for the player's signature though, with Parma reportedly making a bid for the player early on Sunday morning.

Tuttosport reports that the Italian side have made a bid in the region of €3.5 million, news that will force Wenger's hand if he does wish to make a move.

Bari are also thought to be interested in 'La Formica Atomica', but the lure of Premier Leaue and Champions League football could be a deciding factor should the north London club attempt to sign the player in the coming months.

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Vermaelen, Djourou, Koscielny and now...  

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Arsene Wenger is thought to have identified Udinese centre-back Cristian Zapata as his next recruit after admitting that he was on the lookout for further defensive cover.

Despite recruiting French-Polish defender Laurent Koscielny from Lorient last week, and having Thomas Vermaelen and Johan Djourou on the books, the Gunners are still short on options at the back. Philippe Senderos quit the Emirates to join Fulham earlier in the month while Mikael Silvestre and William Gallas are out-of-contract and Sol Campbell is shopping around for a lucrative final contract with the likes of Sunderland and Celtic interested parties.

Speaking last week in the aftermath of his second summer signing Arsene Wenger told Arsenal.com:

"We identified Koscielny as a very, very strong centre half.

"He can be an outstanding addition to our team. But it is not over, we are still open to buy.

"We are still on the market for another defensive player because we have the need for one more."

The Daily Mail now claims that Columbian international Zapata, who has been linked with a move to England in the past, is now one of Arsenal’s top transfer targets despite retaining a value around £15 million. At 6 ft 2 inches tall and still only 23-years-old, the highly experienced Zebrette star is also being monitored by the likes of AC Milan, Juventus and Fiorentina.

It is not the first time the Gunners have been linked with one of Udinese's stars. Swiss midfield enforcer Gokhan Inler was contacted by Arsene Wenger in the aftermath of Euro 2008 and has been consistently tipped for an Arsenal adventure in the future.

West Ham United's Matthew Upson, Bolton's Gary Cahill and Fulham's Brede Hangeland are further names linked with the Gunners although their respective Premier League owners appear unwilling to do business aith Arsenal.

[+/-]

Arsenal: Barca shirt stunt a 'joke' says Cesc Fabregas  

Cesc Fabregas insists nothing should be read into his donning a Barcelona shirt amid Spain's World Cup celebrations.

The Arsenal skipper has long been linked with a return to the Catalan giants, where he spent six years as a youth team player before moving to North London in 2003, and Barca have already had a 35million euro bid turned down this summer.

Barca defenders Carles Puyol and Gerard Pique - helped by Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina - fanned the flames over a possible move by forcing a Blaugrana jersey over their Spain team-mate's head as La Roja celebrated their triumphant return to Madrid on Monday night.

But Fabregas has laughed off the matter, saying nothing more should be read into what was simply a practical joke.

"These are things that happen at special moments, and I don't think it should be gone on about much more because it was just another anecdote of a great night, a great celebration," said the Arsenal midfielder.

"There are times we do not even know what we do, so everything can be forgiven,.

"Pepe took me there (to the front of the stage), the truth is that I didn't know anything like that was going to happen and so I was a bit surprised.

"At first I thought it was a flag or something, but it's nothing.

"You had to enjoy it and if it's a way to have fun, it's nothing."

Fabregas grew slightly more serious when questioned further about where he will be plying his trade next season.

"I think now the less said about the subject much the better, because these things are worse for everyone when they come to light and people talk more about the matter," added the 23-year-old.

"Right now we have to be very calm and what will be will be."

Fabregas has five more years on his contract with the Gunners but has made no secret of his desire to return to the Nou Camp.

[+/-]


Sunday, 11 July 2010

ARSENAL will go for Bordeaux’s Yoann Gourcuff as a £20 million replacement for Cesc Fabregas if their captain finally moves to Barcelona this summer.

And even if Fabregas remains at The Emirates for at least another season, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger will continue his pursuit of Gourcuff, who is also on Manchester City’s list of targets.

Gourcuff is regarded in France as the new Zinedine Zidane but like the rest of the French squad, he had a nightmare World Cup.

But that hasn’t altered Wenger’s view that playmaker Gourcuff, 24 today, is a special talent.

Wenger has already made one signing from Bordeaux this summer – striker Marouane Chamakh, snapped up on a free transfer as he was out of contract.

And last week, he paid £8.5m for centre-back Laurent Koscielny, 24, from Lorient, who are managed by Christian Gourcuff – father of Wenger’s latest target.

Fabregas has made no secret of his desire to return to Spain to sign for Barcelona.

But even the Catalan giants have cash-flow problems, which could be a factor in delaying a deal.

Wenger certainly doesn’t want to lose Fabregas.

But he knows what he will try to do if he fails in his battle to keep him.

And despite big-spending City’s interest in Gourcuff, the French connection could help Wenger get his man.

Meanwhile, Spanish midfielder Fran Merida has revealed he was unhappy at Arsenal and did not think twice about signing for Atletico Madrid.

Merida, 20, who was once described by Wenger as “an absolutely amazing player”, made just six league appearances for the North Londoners.

And the midfield schemer, who came through the youth system at Barcelona, opted for a move back to Spain with Atletico, the club he had supported from a young age.

He said: “I’m an Atletico fan and I feel enormously proud to be here.

“Atletico is a big club as is Arsenal but there were some circumstances there, particularly on the sporting side, which I wasn’t happy with and I couldn’t fit in.

“I made Wenger aware of that and as soon as I knew that Atletico were interested, I didn’t think twice about switching.”

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