Mancini gives up pursuit of Van Persie

10 August 2012 14:09

Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini says that the club’s pursuit of Arsenal striker Robin van Persie is over.

The current Premier League champions are yet to sign anybody this summer, and their inaction to date continues to frustrate Mancini as he looks to build a lasting legacy at the club while turning them into the English game’s dominant force.

The Italian boss has now admitted that the club’s chase for the Dutch forward is all but over, arguing that he is either destined to stay put at the Emirates or move to the club’s bitter rivals Manchester United instead.

“Van Persie is not our player. He is an Arsenal or United player,” Mancini said on Friday.

“These questions you should ask other people. I don’t know what I can say. After three or four months … nothing.

“I think when you win something you should look to improve and buy new players, but not too close to the end. The league was finished in May and I think now it is very difficult to move in the market.

“But I don’t want to talk any more about players, my thoughts are now with the game against Chelsea. Now I have to think about the game.”

When pressed further on whether he was happy with the way that business was conducted with concerns to transfer at the club and the role that the club’s football administrator Brian Marwood plays in negotiations, Mancini didn’t pull any punches.

“You should talk to Brian Marwood for this. Not me. Talk to Marwood please,” he said.

“No I’m not happy. I don’t want to say anything at the moment. For me we have a good team. But we need to continue to improve.”

Meanwhile, Mancini concedes that Manchester United are the favourites for the Premier League title going into the new season.

The two clubs went head-to-head for most of last season and took the race right down to the final game of the season, with Sergio Aguero’s 95th-minute winning strike against QPR deciding the destination of the league crown.

However, Mancini believes Sir Alex Ferguson’s side will be the team to look out for.

“I think United are the favourite team this year,” he said.

“I am confident with my players because we won the league and also because last year we beat a fantastic team like United.

“But you do need to improve at every level. We are a young team and we need to get better, every month, every year.”

With the season’s traditional curtain-raiser against Chelsea in the Community Shield just days away, Mancini is nursing a few selection headaches ahead of the game, with the likes of Mario Balotelli and David Silva still requiring rest and Gareth Barry and Micah Richards consigned to the treatment table.

“Mario (Balotelli) and David (Silva) have had a busy summer, they need more time. They will probably be on the bench,” he said.

“(Micah) Richards, I think will be out for just this game, he has a small ankle problem. Gareth (Barry), I don’t know. I hope that maybe three or four weeks, or one month, but I don’t know.”

Galatasaray loan Felipe Melo from Juventus

10 August 2012 12:56

Felipe Melo has rejoined Galatasaray from Juventus on a season-long loan, with the option to make the move permanent at the end of the season.

The Turkish champions have paid the Turin giants a fee of 1.75-million-euros to borrow the Brazil international for the coming season, and will have to shell out an additional 6.5 million euros if they opt to buy him outright.

Gala have also confirmed via their official website that Melo will be earning an annual salary of 2.9 million euros, plus a bonus of 25,000 euros per game.

The 29-year-old already spent the previous campaign on loan at the Istanbul giants, who were keen to sign him on a permanent basis this summer.

Nevertheless, they have now had to settle for another temporary deal after refusing to meet Juve’s demands for a full transfer.

Melo, who has 22 caps for Brazil to his name, previously wore the jerseys of clubs such as Flamengo, Almeria and Fiorentina.

Udinese to meet Braga in Champions League

10 August 2012 12:47

Italian outfit Udinese will meet Liga Sagres team Braga in the 2012-13 Champions League playoff following Friday’s draw in Nyon.

In the other four fixtures in the League Route, Bundesliga representatives Borussia Moenchengladbach take on Dynamo Kiev, while Malaga face Panathinaikos.

Furthermore, Russian giants Spartak Moscow will have to deal with Fenerbahce, with 2010-11 Ligue 1 champions Lille awaiting a tie versus Copenhagen.

In the champions route, Scottish giants Celtic will have to deal with Swedish side Helsingborgs, while Belgian powerhouse Anderlecht meet Cypriot titleholders AEL Limassol.

The first legs of the ties will be played on August 21/22, with the return taking place one week later on August 28/29.

Rooney starts mind games with City

10 August 2012 12:34

Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney has cast doubts over Manchester City’s ability to defend their Premier League title next season.

City clinched the title on the final day of last season, courtesy of a 95th-minute Sergio Aguero winner against QPR.

And Rooney believes that Roberto Mancini’s side may struggle with the expectation that comes with being favourites for the 2012-2013 campaign.

“It’ll be a different situation for them, something they’ve never experienced before but we know about it,” Rooney said.

“We know all about it when you’re trying to defend your trophy. We know that over the years everyone has tried to raise their game when they play against Manchester United.

“Now obviously City are champions they’ll have to face that. Sometimes it can be more difficult.”

Rooney stated that he thought this season would see an equally closely-run race to be crowned league champions, particularly in light of Chelsea’s heavy spending so far this summer, adding that the club must improve in Europe if they want to win silverware in the future.

He added: “I’m not sure we need any more motivation but to lose that way was difficult for us to take.

“It’s a good chance for us now to bounce back from that. We know how hard you have to work to try and win it back but hopefully come the end of the season we’ll have it back.

“City have got some great players. Chelsea have spent a lot of money, so it’ll be a close-run thing.

“But this is our chance to show everyone we are a good team and we’re capable of winning the league this season. That’s obviously our aim this season.

“Ending the campaign without a trophy is a rare thing for United. But we felt we were unlucky in the league.

“We know we let ourselves down in Europe. That’s something we’ve had to think about. I’m sure we’ll be a lot better this season.

“Our first aim will be to improve on last year and we can do that. It’s a big season for us after last season and we all need to be ready for it.”

Alves sustains ankle injury in friendly

10 August 2012 12:24

Barcelona full-back Dani Alves faces a brief spell on the sidelines after picking up an ankle injury in the 0-0 draw with Manchester United.

Alves complained about pain in his lower leg in the aftermath of the pre-season friendly, and sat out of training a day later because of the knock he was later found to be carrying.

The club have since announced that the injury does not seem to be too serious, but it is unlikely that the 29-year-old will feature in the Catalans’ final pre-season game against Dinamo Bucharest on Saturday.

Nevertheless, Barcelona are confident that Alves will have recovered from his ankle sprain in time for their La Liga opener against Real Sociedad on August 19.

The Brazil international recently returned to full training after a two-month lay-off due to a shoulder injury.