Falcao ready to fire

16 August 2012 15:46

Atletico Madrid star Radamel Falcao is brimming with confidence ahead of the start of the La Liga season.

The Colombia international netted 24 league goals in his debut campaign at the Vicente Calderon and he is desperate to do even better this campaign.

Falcao wants to challenge Barcelona star Lionel Messi and Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo for leading goalscorer honours in the league this season.

“It’s up to me to improve on what I did last time around and that’s my aim,” Falcao said.

“Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s goal tallies aren’t out of my reach. But what I most want is to have a good season for the fans.

“I’m really looking forward to this new season. As for me, I’m better acclimatised to the Spanish league.

“We’re really looking forward to improving on what we achieved last year, both individually and collectively.

“The team is more settled now and we know each other better.”

Atletico Madrid open their campaign with an away game against Levante.

Ferguson: Van Persie takes United to another level

16 August 2012 15:43

Sir Alex Ferguson says the signing of Robin van Persie will see Manchester United possess Europe’s best forward line.

Dutchman Van Persie is expected to arrive in Manchester on Wednesday to agree personal terms and undergo a medical with United after they agreed a fee of 24 million pounds with Arsenal.

Ferguson dismissed suggestions he would have a selection headache following Van Persie’s arrival, instead drawing comparisons between his 2012/13 team and the attacking line-up which fired United to their 1998/99 treble.

He told reporters: “Rooney and Van Persie are two fantastic players and it’s great to have both of them. What it gives us is more strength and combinations up front. Going back to the 1999 season, we had Yorke, Cole, Sheringham and Solskjaer, the four best strikers in Europe.

“We’re getting towards that now with Wayne, Robin, Chicharito and Danny Welbeck. It’s a fantastic collection of players. I just hope I pick the right combinations.

“It’s great to have a player of Van Persie’s quality to come into the squad as it is. I’m really pleased.”

Ferguson said he expects Van Persie to be available for United’s English Premier League opener away to Everton on Monday.

“We are delighted with that (the Van Persie deal) of course,” he said.

“He’s not signed yet, but a fee has been agreed. He’s on his way up from London and will have a medical later this (Wednesday) afternoon. Hopefully that goes according to plan.

“His agent is also in discussion with David Gill. Hopefully all these things will be tied up by the end of the day.

“But sometimes medicals take a little longer and it may carry on until tomorrow. But I’m sure he will be available for Monday’s game.”

Marcelo resumes Madrid training

16 August 2012 15:25

Real Madrid have welcomed Marcelo back into their squad after the defender returned from representing Brazil at the Olympics.

The 24-year-old missed the first few weeks of Real’s pre-season due to his obligations with the Brazil, but is now available again, having touched down in the Spanish capital.

Marcelo’s Brazil were beaten 2-1 by Mexico in the final of the Olympics on Saturday.

Madrid resumed regular training action on Wednesday after three days of rest following their pre-season tour of the USA, where they played friendlies against Celtic, AC Milan, Santos Laguna and Los Angeles Galaxy.

Coach Jose Mourinho is preparing his squad for Sunday’s La Liga opener against Valencia.

Robben unfazed by friendly loss

16 August 2012 15:33

Netherlands winger Arjen Robben has insisted Wednesday’s international friendly against Belgium was not about the result.

The Dutch were beaten 4-2 in an entertaining game, but the Bayern Munich ace was not too worried about his team’s loss in Brussels.

“It’s obviously always a bit of a disappointment when you lose because you always play to win. Nevertheless, this match was not so much about the final result,” Robben told Goal.com.

“We are making a fresh start with the team. It would have been nice to win this game, but that was not the important thing for us.

“What really matters is that we were together again and got to talk to each other. We can turn our focus to the future again.

“We still have work to do, as today’s match illustrated. We played a new formation and that takes time. I’m positive about the future, though. We shouldn’t read too much into this loss.”

Netherlands kick off their 2014 World Cup qualification campaign at home to Turkey on September 7.

Newcastle lure Anita from Ajax

16 August 2012 14:42

Newcastle United have confirmed the signing of Ajax midfielder Vurnon Anita for a fee of 8.5 million euros.

The Netherlands international operates primarily as a central midfielder but can also fill in at full-back and has signed a five-year contract at St James’ Park.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew expressed his delight at the completion of the deal and said he is looking forward to the player blossoming in the northeast of England.

“We are delighted to secure the services of Vurnon,” Pardew told the club’s official website.

“He is an exceptionally talented footballer with great technical ability, which is exactly what I’m looking at in a player. And, at 23-years-old, we hope his best years are at Newcastle.”

Anita played a key role in Ajax’s Eredivisie title-winning campaign last season, scoring two goals in 17 matches.

Pardew revealed he will be ready for the season opener against Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday as he has already completed a full pre-season.

“He has come through the Ajax youth system which is world renowned for bringing up players the right way, and I am sure he will fit seamlessly into the squad of players we have here,” he said.

“Vurnon has done his pre-season, and indeed already played one competitive game, so he’s up to speed and ready to play when I need him.”

During his time in Amsterdam, Anita won both the Eredivisie title and the Dutch Super Cup twice, as well as lifting the Dutch Cup on three occasions, and is now ready for a new challenge.

“I won almost everything in Holland so the step was not difficult to make,” Anita said upon his arrival on Tyneside.

“Now I think we can also win trophies with Newcastle and it’s time to do that.

“In the Premier League especially, every game is tough so it can help me also to grow in my football skills.”

Anita also said he had spoken with Pardew about the role he hoped to play in the team.

“I talked to the manager and the coach and they know that I want to play in a defensive midfield place and that’s why they brought me here,” he said.

“But I can play at left-back or right-back, so that’s also no problem.”