Pienaar happy to be home

3 August 2012 22:05

Steven Pienaar said he followed his heart when he moved back to Everton after a year with Tottenham.

He returns to Goodison Park in a 4.5-million-pound move, and has committed to a four-and-a-half year deal.

The 30-year-old spent the end of last season back at his old club on loan, scoring four goals in 14 appearances.

He will hope to fill the space left by Tim Cahill, after the Australian striker moved to MLS side New York Red Bulls.

“At the end of the season it was sad to say good-bye and I spoke to the manager before I left and that’s when I made up my mind that I really want to come back. That was it,” he said as he was unveiled on Friday.

“Over the holidays I had it hard, but I followed my heart and told myself I’d made up my mind already, before I went back to training. It was basically just for me to wait for the deal to be done.

“It’s football. Wherever you go you give 100 percent and for whatever reason it doesn’t work you just have to keep your head up, move on and leave the past behind you. I gave it everything and it didn’t work out. At least I left with my head up and I’m proud I played for them.

“The club has been part of my family since I joined the first time. It was always a part of me.

“My family wanted to come back and the club gave me the opportunity to play in the Premier League and whenever I had an opportunity to come back it was easy for me to make a decision.”

Diego to stay at Wolfsburg

3 August 2012 21:32

Wolfsburg coach Felix Magath has confirmed that Diego will form part of his plans this season.

The 27-year-old had fallen out of favour at the Bundesliga club following a much-publicised bust-up with the trainer at the end of the 2010-11 season, when the Brazil international refused to take his place on the bench after being named as a substitute for a crucial match against Hoffenheim.

The former Juventus ace spent last season on loan at Atletico Madrid as a result of the row, and upon returning to Wolfsburg this summer was immediately linked with a transfer away from the club.

However, in a remarkable turn of events, both Diego and Magath announced on Friday that they have put their differences to one side and are ready to work together once more.

Magath said: “It is known that after the Hoffenheim game (our relationship) was tense, but we already talked last summer and even then all the problems were largely resolved.

“In our society it is important that mistakes can be forgiven. We must now look to the future. A player of his class increases our chances of reaching one of the Champions League positions.

“Diego gets the No.10. He is a man of heart, who can create chances for his team-mates and also for himself. As a playmaker, it will be his task to lead the team to reach their maximum potential.

“I ask our fans to give him a second chance. Anyone who loves football, loves players like Diego.”

The player himself issued an open letter to the fans on the club’s official website, apologising for his past conduct and asking for their forgiveness.

“I know at the end of last season I disappointed many of you, although I have since been so warmly received in Wolfsburg,” he said.

“Here, my family and I have always felt comfortable. Now we are living in our old house again and it is a very good feeling. I apologised already last season to our trainer and I have learned from my mistakes.

“I am glad that I have been given a second chance by the club and my teammates. I am very grateful and happy that they trust me.

“I hope that you, dear fans, also give me this second chance. I can promise you that I will lead the team to Europe this season. But I would like to receive your full support.”

Wolfsburg start their Bundesliga campaign away at Stuttgart on August 26.

Chelsea fit and firing, declares Di Matteo

3 August 2012 20:54

Chelsea coach Roberto Di Matteo has a clean bill of health in his squad and is looking forward to the start of a new season.

The Blues defeated MLS side Seattle Sounders 4-2, but it was the only win of their American tour, as they drew with Paris Saint-Germain and lost against the MLS All-Stars and AC Milan.

But Di Matteo is looking at the positives, in that none of his players came back carrying injuries despite a challenging schedule.

“I think this week has been a good week of training and settling down really, coming back to Cobham and getting rid of the jet lag,” Di Matteo told the club’s official website.

“It’s been a week of hard work. It takes a few days of everybody to get over it, we all struggled at first but we have recovered well.

“The training facilities in America were very good, excellent.

“We moved around a lot though, especially in the second week, and integration of players coming back on different dates and trying to match them up with players who had a different fitness level, then the games, was a big challenge for everybody – the players and staff – but we are very pleased we came back without any injuries.”

Di Matteo also stated that despite some disappointing results, the players still have opportunities to impress him in training and in their final pre-season friendly against Brighton this weekend before the Community Shield against Manchester City at Villa Park.

“Results were a bit up and down and we were a little disappointed with the results, but we were pleased with what we did and we are looking forward to being ready on the first day,” he said.

“Every day in training is an opportunity, the friendlies are opportunities, and on Saturday I am looking forward to a good competitive game for us, and also to test a couple of things, and get some players with 90 minutes in their legs so that we can get the majority of players with that amount under their belt.

“That means there won’t be as many substitutions as we have seen in the States.”

Villas-Boas delighted with Spurs pre-season

3 August 2012 20:48

Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas has hailed his side’s pre-season tour of the United States as a successful trip.

Spurs faced tough opposition and extreme heat as they drew against the LA Galaxy and Liverpool but they managed to beat the New York Red Bulls 2-1 to secure the Barclays New York Cup on Tuesday.

The north London club have now arrived back in the England and are gearing up to face Watford on Sunday as they look to build up match sharpness ahead of the Premier League season.

Villas-Boas is pleased with what he has seen from his new team so far and is looking forward to getting started when they play Newcastle on August 18.

“It’s been a fantastic 10 days for us,” the Portuguese told the club’s official website after the final match in New York.

“Everyone has been so committed to the preparation and fitness. We’ve had good signs from this tour.

“All of the games have had positive signs.

“It’s not the results that will change our perspective. We had good things and poor things in every match, but the process is evolution and that’s what we have to dedicate ourselves to when we get back to England.”

Valdes impressed by ´special´ Neymar

3 August 2012 19:49

Victor Valdes believes that Barcelona would be a suitable destination for Brazilian starlet Neymar.

The 20-year-old has long been mooted as a transfer target for both the Blaugrana and Real Madrid, and has been in fine form for Brazil at this year’s Olympic Games, helping his team storm to the quarter-final stage with three wins in as many group games.

Valdes has been watching Neymar in the tournament, and feels that the Santos striker has the ability to play in any team and compete at any level.

“I have discovered Neymar by watching the Olympics,” he said. “I always said that a player with a special talent can fit into any team.

“He does things that only he can do. This is valuable for any team and especially for a team like Barcelona.”

Barcelona play PSG in their third pre-season friendly on Saturday, where Valdes will face former team-mates Thiago Motta, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Maxwell.

And he expects a tough fight from the French Ligue 1 side.

“It’s always a difficult time playing the match during the season because we don’t know what form we will be in, but it’s a major title and we’re going to do everything we can to win. We’ll see if we can get it,” he said.