Drogba chasing special transfer

21 November 2012 14:49

Shanghai Shenhua striker Didier Drogba has requested FIFA’s permission to seek an exit outside the January window.

The Chinese Super League season came to an end earlier in November, and Ivory Coast international Drogba has set his sights on a loan move away from Shenhua to maintain his fitness until the African Cup of Nations kicks off on January 19, with world football’s governing body considering the former Chelsea star’s request.

“The FIFA administration services are looking into it,” a FIFA statement read.

Drogba has recently been linked with clubs such as Juventus and Chelsea, but he would be unable to move before January 1 under current FIFA regulations.

Ivory Coast have been drawn alongside Tunisia, Algeria and Togo in Group D of the 2013 Cup of Nations. They take on Togo on January 22 in their first match of the tournament.

Vidal: Crushing Chelsea was ´perfect´

21 November 2012 14:35

Juventus midfielder Arturo Vidal said his side’s 3-0 Champions League victory over Chelsea was ‘the perfect night’.

Goals from Fabio Quagliarella, Vidal and Sebastian Giovinco helped Juve to a vital win and to second place in Group E, much to the delight of the Chile international.

“It was the perfect night, we played an incredible match against a great side like Chelsea and now we are very happy. We just have to keep on like this until the end,” Vidal told the official UEFA website.

“We were eager to win this game. It was so important so that we could continue to grow as a team. It’s not over yet – there is another game – but if we play as well as we did tonight it will be an interesting game for us against Shakhtar.”

The 25-year-old also hailed the influence of their fans who willed them over the line at Juventus Stadium.

“When our fans support us like they did tonight our hearts become bigger on the pitch. It’s so important to have this kind of support from our fans in this stadium,” Vidal said.

Juve resume Serie A action on Sunday when they travel to AC Milan.

Alves hails Barca backline

21 November 2012 13:57

Dani Alves praised Barcelona’s defensive performance following their 3-0 Champions League win over Spartak Moscow on Tuesday.

The right-back opened the scoring in the 16th minute before Lionel Messi put the match to bed with two more goals, but Alves was particularly pleased with his side’s first clean sheet since their 1-0 victory over Valencia on September 2.

“Sometimes we’re exposed at the back when we all attack at the same time, but we defended their counterattacks well. We did a pretty good job,” the Brazil international told the official Barcelona website.

“It had been a while since we’d kept a clean sheet and we’re happy that we managed to do that against Spartak. I’m especially pleased for Víctor (Valdes).

“We played really well going forward and we put in a good defensive performance, but the important thing is how the whole team played.”

The Blaugrana sit atop of Champions League Group G with 12 points from five games, and have a five-point lead over Celtic and Benfica, who are level on points in second and third spot.

Leeds complete sale to Dubai bank

21 November 2012 13:44

Leeds United have been sold to Dubai-based investment bank GFH Capital Limited after protracted negotiations.

A statement on of the Yorkshire club’s official website confirmed that Neil Warnock will continue as manager, while GFH Capital executive David Haigh will join the board immediately with fellow executives Hisham Alrayes and Salem Patel joining in December following a one-match transitional period.

Chairman Ken Bates added in a statement: “I can confirm we have now completed all the negotiations with GFH Capital. We have completed the first part of the purchase and they will be taking over 100 per cent of the club. Meanwhile, there is a transitional period while they get to know more about the club.

“I will continue as chairman until the end of the season when I will take over as president and I look forward to sitting back and taking more time off.

“Neil Warnock will continue as manager with more support than the present owners have been able to give and we look forward to a smooth transition.

“One thing I can say that has benefited from the negotiations is that this six-month courtship has given GFH Capital the opportunity to see the strengths and weaknesses and what needs to be supported.

“You can look forward to a smoother transition than we’ve seen at a lot of clubs.”

Haigh added his intention to return Leeds to the Premier League at the first possible opportunity, with the club currently languishing four places above the relegation zone in the Championship – but just seven points off the play-off places.

“After a long process of negotiations, spanning Leeds, London, Monaco, Dubai and Bahrain, it gives us great pride today, to have completed the deal for Leeds United,” Haigh said.

“A brief but important transitional period now begins in terms of the changeover of ownership: we have today injected further funds into the club and now we look to the future and start the exciting journey to take Leeds United FC back into a prime position in English football once again.

“From a Leeds family myself and a supporter of The Whites since childhood, I know that football is at the very heart of the people of Leeds and the wider community.

“We want to thank all the fans in UK and around the world for their patience and support while the negotiations have been taking place.

“Let’s now march on together, taking the club back to the Premier League as soon as possible.”

Butragueno: Madrid must respect City

21 November 2012 13:41

Emilio Butragueno has insisted Real Madrid cannot afford to take Manchester City lightly if they are to win their Champions League clash.

The Premier League champions reside in fourth spot in Group D with a meagre two points heading into the game at Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, but Real’s director of institutional relations has warned City should not be underestimated.

“We are going to have to be at our very best, but the team is capable of that,” Butragueno told Marca.

“We have to focus on our own game, which is against a team that was one of the favourites in the group, on paper, but is now in a difficult position and has a very small chance of qualifying.

“However, there is still a chance, and they are going to throw everything at us, so it’s going to be a very tough match.

“City have huge potential going forward. (Sergio) Aguero is fit again, then there is (Carlos) Tevez and (David) Silva. We have to be positive, but without losing sight of the fact that the opposition has world-class players.”