Bellamy mum on Cardiff move

8 August 2012 10:56

Liverpool forward Craig Bellamy has admitted he is taking things as they come amid speculation he is set to sign for Cardiff City.

Despite having a year remaining on his current Anfield deal, the former Manchester City man is thought to be keen to move away from the club and although Queens Park Rangers are reportedly showing interest, Bellamy has his heart set on the Bluebirds.

“Look, you know me better than to expect me to talk publicly about that. I’ve no immediate plans at the moment. What will be, will be,” Bellamy told the South Wales Echo.

“I don’t think too far into the future. At this stage of my career I just have to take things day by day.”

Malky Mackay is said to want to complete the signing as quickly as possible with his side getting their Championship campaign underway against Huddersfield in just over a week’s time and the signing of the Wales international would give his team an added boost.

The 33-year old spent the 2010-11 campaign on-loan with the Championship club where they narrowly missed out on promotion to the Premier League following a semi-final play-off defeat but could now spearhead a new charge to the top flight.

Iniesta: Barcelona eager to regain La Liga title

8 August 2012 10:46

Andres Iniesta says Barcelona are determined to regain their La Liga crown this season after being pipped to the title by Real Madrid last term.

The Spain international admits that Real Madrid are now the team to beat, but added that he and his team-mates are only more motivated to set things right following their second spot in the table in 2011-12.

“We will try to beat the champions. Trying to beat Real Madrid to win the league again is a real incentive,” Iniesta said.

“It gives us extra motivation. Now it’s our turn to try and wrestle the title away from them.”

Looking ahead to the upcoming Spanish Supercopa against Real Madrid, the attacking midfielder stressed the outcome of the tie will not have any influence on the La Liga season.

“It is important for us because it is the first title, against the current league champions. But the Supercopa will not affect the season,” he said.

“Obviously the aim is to win it, to do as well as possible. It is part of our preparations over these two months. The winner will gain morale and confidence compared to the loser, but it is just the start.”

Meanwhile, Iniesta stoked the transfer fires further after announcing his pleasure that Barcelona are being linked with a move for Arsenal ‘prodigy’ Alex Song.

Recent speculation has suggested that the Catalans could be interested in acquiring the defensive midfielder’s services, with Arsene Wenger reportedly considering selling and bringing in Real Madrid misfit Nuri Sahin as a replacement.

A fee of at least 15 million pounds has been touted for the 24-year-old Cameroon international, and Iniesta believes any move will benefit Barcelona and Song.

“He’s a prodigy,” Iniesta said.

“I don’t know how many years he’s been playing but he isn’t a discovery from yesterday.

“He’s a good player and I’ve seen in a couple of publications that he could be joining our team.”

The Barcelona playmaker is unsure as to whether a move will materialise, but is confident Song has the ability to shine at Camp Nou.

Iniesta continued: “I don’t know if that would be the case but if he comes here we’ll welcome him the best we can.

“If he comes here it’s because he has the ability to play here, no doubt.”

Rooney desired to play for Everton again

8 August 2012 10:20

Tony Hibbert has revealed that Wayne Rooney asked to feature for Everton in the defender’s testimonial.

But Rooney had to pull out as the game clashed with Manchester United’s pre-season friendly against Barcelona.

The boyhood fan left the Merseyside club in discordant fashion in 2004 and has suffered scorn from Toffees fans ever since, but was keen to show his appreciation to the club’s longest-serving player.

And Hibbert was touched by the willingness shown by Rooney in light of an expected backlash from some sections of fans.

“It was great that he asked me but it just worked out that Manchester United also have a game and he was quite upset when he realised,” Hibbert is quoted as saying by The Guardian.

“It says everything about Wayne that he was willing to do that. He probably would have got a bad reception but he is not fazed about that. He loves Everton. Deep down he is still an Evertonian.

“I know for a fact that he still goes to games. He will do anything for Everton. It was a great honour for me that he wanted to play in the game. I was surprised when he asked whether he could play and if I would like him to. I jumped at the chance but obviously he has other commitments.”

Despite the opportunity to wear the Everton shirt for the first time since his 27-million-pound exit, Hibbert has tipped Rooney to one day represent the club after his playing days with United are over.

Hibbert added: “I think it is possible. If Wayne wants it, then I think the club would be stupid not to welcome him back. I think there would be a few moans but for us to get a player like Wayne Rooney, who is still a massive Evertonian, like all his family, would be fantastic.”

AEK Athens come to Goodison Park to honour Hibbert’s 12-year career in the Everton first team – in which time he has amassed 309 appearances.

However, the 31-year-old has never scored for the Premier League side in that time, a club record, and he is hesitant to step up if the opportunity arises on Wednesday night.

“Everyone has been asking me that. The manager hasn’t said anything, nobody has,” he added.

“I would rather us win 1-0 than us get beaten 2-1 and I score the goal. I just want to win. I don’t know why everyone is saying I should take a penalty either. It’s an easy way of scoring, isn’t it? If I’m going to do it, I want it to be a 30-yarder.”

Crouch wants Owen at Stoke

8 August 2012 09:58

Stoke City forward Peter Crouch has admitted he would love Michael Owen to join him at the Britannia Stadium.

The 32-year old is currently without a club after Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson opted against renewing his contract at the end of last season and with the new campaign looming large the former Tottenham striker has claimed the Potters would be a good move for Owen.

Despite spending his career at Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United, Crouch feels that a move to Tony Pulis’ side would not necessarily be a backward step in Owen’s career.

“Coming to Stoke was never a step down,” Crouch told The Sun.

“I was really happy the manager could give me games when I was in and out of the Tottenham side.

“I’d rather play a big part in something smaller than be a small part of something bigger.

“I know Michael has a big decision to make after leaving a club the size of Manchester United – but I had a similar decision to make last summer.

“At Tottenham we were challenging for a Champions’ League place every season. We’re not doing that at Stoke but we are building something worthwhile here.”

Crouch also added that more playing time and the club’s fans would make Stoke an attractive proposition for Owen.

“If you want to play regular football and enjoy playing again, this is a great place to be,” he said.

“Michael will obviously make his own decision but a player of that calibre would be fantastic to have around the place.

“And the fans will absolutely love him. They were amazing with me when I first signed and they’re still great with me now.”

Fontas on the comeback trail

8 August 2012 09:47

Barcelona defender Andreu Fontas has vowed to fight for his place in the starting line-up as he continues his rehabilitation from injury.

The 22-year-old has been with the club since 2007, becoming a regular for the B team and racking up 72 appearances, but has found first-team games harder to come-by, playing just 16 matches in the past three seasons.

The Spaniard has been troubled by injury recently, rupturing a cruciate ligament in his knee in January, but is hoping to be back in action within the next few days for the pre-season clashes against Manchester United and Dinamo Bucharest.

“If all goes well, I hope to be discharged on Tuesday, and to play a few minutes on Wednesday in Gothenburg (against United) or Saturday in Bucharest,” he told Marca.

“The truth is that I’m getting very excited.”

Fontas rubbished claims that he was looking to leave the Catalan side in order to seek first-team football elsewhere.

“I never thought about leaving the team. I feel good here and I will continue working at the club,” he said.