Di Maria extends Real deal

10 August 2012 01:02

Angel Di Maria has signed a six-year extension to his Real Madrid deal, contracting him to the club until the end of the 2017/18 season.

Di Maria’s new deal will run until June 2018 according to an announcement on the club’s official website.

This is the second major update to Di Maria’s contract in the past two months, after he was rewarded with a wage increase in June, which reportedly took his salary from 2 million to 3 million euros per year.

“I am very happy because I know that the club extended the contract for the work I am doing,” the 24-year-old Argentina winger told Marca.

“I feel very supported and loved by the club and the fans.”

“Personally, I have greatly improved, thanks to Mourinho. I thank God for the work and sacrifice I made every day, and with every game, I managed to win the affections of the fans. I am delighted with them.”

“I am fulfilling a dream that I had as a child. I am very happy here and this contract extension gives me the opportunity to remain here for many years and keep growing.”

Di Maria joined Real from Benfica in June 2010 and has since gone on to make 83 appearances for the club, playing a important role in their victorious 2011/12 Liga campaign.

Henry: Anfield naming deal a possibility

10 August 2012 00:52

Liverpool owner John W. Henry says the club could sell the naming rights to Anfield if they found the right partner.

Successive Liverpool owners have struggled with the issue of whether to redevelop the existing stadium or build a new venue.

American Henry, who led a takeover of the club in October 2010, has now indicated he would consider selling the naming rights to historic Anfield, but has yet to seriously pursue the option.

“A naming rights deal at Anfield could occur, I suppose, if the partner were right. We haven’t pursued it,” Henry told The Tomkins Times.

Henry also cast doubt on the effectiveness of UEFA’s Financial Fair Play policies, which are expected to come into full force from this season onwards.

“The mandate of financial fair play in Europe is for clubs to live within their means,” he said.

“Recently I was told that half of the clubs in the top divisions within Europe are losing money and 20 percent are in straits of varying degrees.

“There are a lot of clubs within the league that support financial fair play. We believe the (Premier League) itself may have to adopt its own rules given that clubs seem to be ignoring UEFA’s rules, which may be porous enough to enable clubs to say that the trend of huge losses is positive and therefore be exempt from any meaningful sanctions.

“It’s up to LFC to invest properly in players going forward so that the club can not only be sustainable but a powerhouse. This club should be able to significantly increase its revenues.

“But it won’t be easy. I believe we have the right people to accomplish this. But I don’t see it happening at the local level – the vast majority must come from our global agenda.

“There are various ways to generate revenues. A big club has to hit on all cylinders so to speak.

“Champions League, Premier League, commercial – everywhere that makes sense. As evidenced by Manchester City’s success and that of Chelsea and Manchester United, you have to have sufficient resources to replenish and improve your squad annually in the Premier League. You don’t have a choice.”

Mourinho open to Kaka offers

9 August 2012 23:37

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho says he is willing sell Kaka, if the Brazilian midfielder wants to leave the La Liga champions.

Kaka, 30, has struggled to find his best form since joining Real from AC Milan in June 2009, with frequent injury problems hindering his chances of making an impression at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Former club Milan and big-spending French side Paris Saint-Germain have both been linked with a move for the Brazil international.

Speaking after his team’s 5-1 friendly win over Milan on Wednesday, Mourinho said Kaka was welcome to stay in the Spanish capital, but he will not stand in the way if the playmaker wishes to leave.

“I’m happy to keep Kaka, but I’m also happy to sell if he wants to leave because a player must be happy – that is the most important thing,” he said.

“There is an unwritten rule in football that the player plays where he wants to play. When he doesn’t want to play at a club then, sooner or later, he will find a way out of that club. My arms are open if he wants to stay beyond the 31st August.”

“He has shown today that he is a very good player and is ready to perform at the highest level so, if he stays, that’s perfect for me.

“If he decides that the best thing would be for him to leave, then Real Madrid will try to help. But nobody gets a diamond for free. If you want a diamond, you have to pay for it.”

Lloyd brace fires USA to gold

9 August 2012 23:01

Carli Lloyd was the United States’ Olympic hero once more, as the US avenged their World Cup final defeat by Japan and took gold at Wembley.

Lloyd’s brilliant two goals in the final were enough for the USA to complete a hat-trick of Olympic titles, as the midfielder added to her winner in the 2008 final as they topped the podium in London with a 2-1 win in the final.

Lloyd’s heroics also went some way to making amends for her penalty shoot-out miss in last year’s World Cup final.

Yuki Ogimi pulled a goal back for Japan, who had plenty of chances to equalise and were denied by the woodwork as they failed in a bid to add the Olympic title to their world crown.

But the Asian nation contributed to a superb spectacle and another brilliant advert for the women’s game.

The USA were playing in their fifth successive final, having lost just one of the previous four, while Japan were in their first.

Both sides had survived scares in the semis, the USA coming from behind three times to beat Canada in extra-time, and Japan weathering a second-half onslaught against France.

There was good support for each team among the 80,203 crowd – a record for a women’s game at the Olympics – but it was the former fans celebrating in the eighth minute as Lloyd opened the scoring.

Tobin Heath got free down the left and crossed for Alex Morgan, whose heavy touch actually allowed her to stand up a ball which Lloyd arrived late to nod home, stealing it off the toe of Abby Wambach.

It was the first time Japan had been behind all tournament and they responded superbly, going close twice in quick succession.

A fine move ended with Nahomi Kawasumi’s shot being blocked by Christie Rampone – although it may have been going wide – with goalkeeper Hope Solo thwarting Ogimi on the rebound.

Solo then excelled herself, magnificently tipping Ogimi’s header from Kawasumi’s cross onto the crossbar, before Ogimi smashed over the follow-up.

Heath was lucky to get away with handballing Aya Miyama’s free-kick as Japan continued to dominate but they enjoyed a let-off themselves when Azusa Iwashimizu headed Amy LePeilbet’s cross against her own post.

They should have equalised in the 33rd minute, Miyama the next to hit the woodwork after Shinobu Ohno found herself all alone in the box – the latter then sending a beautiful curling shot inches wide.

Both sides threatened early in the second half before Lloyd scored a stunning second goal in the 54th minute.

The Japan defence backed off as the midfielder carried the ball forward but even they could not have predicted the unstoppable 20-yard shot that flew into the net.

However the world champions refused to buckle and, after bringing on Asuna Tanaka, they halved the deficit in the 63rd minute.

A lovely move saw Homare Sawa’s shot blocked by Rampone and the ball broke for Ogimi to poke home.

A sprawling Miho Fukumoto prevented Rachel Buehler restoring the USA’s two-goal lead while there was a desperate scramble at the other end after the Americans failed to deal with a free-kick.

Lloyd was agonisingly close to a hat-trick when she drove inches over and Japan substitute Mana Iwabuchi should have equalised when she robbed Rampone 20 yards out but shot too close to Solo, who nevertheless produced a fine save.

Wambach could have netted late on but it did not matter that she missed out as the USA held on.

Milan´s Allegri hints at Kaka swoop

9 August 2012 22:41

AC Milan coach Massimiliano Allegri says Kaka’s potential return to the club from Real Madrid could still be possible.

Brazil international Kaka has failed to produce his best form at Real since joining the La Liga title holders in June 2009.

The 30-year-old has been heavily linked with a move back to Milan and Allegri, speaking after his team’s 5-1 friendly defeat to Real on Wednesday, did not dismiss the possibility out of hand.

“For us, the transfer market is open until August 31 so let’s see,” he said.

“But we didn’t just discover how good Kaka was from tonight. We already knew about his talent.”

Milan’s heavy defeat to Real is another blow to the team’s morale during an off-season in which they lost star players Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain.

Allegri acknowledged the significant gulf in quality between his squad and Real’s, but insisted Milan still have enough quality to challenge for the Serie A title.

“There is a big gap between us and Real Madrid at the moment,” he said.

“We played a strong first half, but we suffered during the second. We let them play with freedom during the second 45 minutes, they hit us on the counter attack and scored three easy goals.

“We are still one of the favourites for Serie A. Tonight, we played with a lot of players that have less experience on the international stage.

“So when you play against a star team like Real Madrid with so many world class players, it’s very difficult in such occasions to find a way to score and to actually play well against them.”

“We are going to analyse the game. We weren’t a phenomenal team before, and we are not the worst team in the world either.

“Basically, we need to find the confidence within ourselves and face up to this defeat, because every defeat makes us stronger. Hopefully, it is a one-off defeat and we are going to try to improve and come back strongly from this.”