Sneijder weighing up Galatasaray move

13 January 2013 01:20

Inter Milan midfielder Wesley Sneijder says his decision on whether or not to join Galatasaray in January will be a difficult one.

The Turkish champions’ sporting director Abdurrahim Albayrak claimed on Friday the completion of the deal was looking likely, but the Netherlands international himself is still mulling over his future.

Sneijder has effectively been pushed out the door by Inter, who want the playmaker to accept a significant wage reduction.

“It is a difficult decision to make,” he told Sky Sport 24.

“There are still two weeks until the end of the (transfer) window and I still have time. See, I’m fine and I’m calm. I do not need to decide on Monday.”

Earlier on Saturday, Galatasaray had issued a statement to deny widespread reports in the Turkish media claiming the former Real Madrid star had already agreed to move to the Turk Telekom Arena.

“The transfer of Wesley Sneijder has been agreed between Inter and the club and negotiations are ongoing with the player,” a statement on the club’s official website read.

“This has been brought to the attention to the public.”

Sneijder has been frozen out of the first team during the contract impasse, and has not played since September.

The midfielder’s agent said on Friday the 28-year-old will consider offers over the next few weeks before making a final decision on his future.

Mourinho satisfied despite dropping points

13 January 2013 00:48

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has praised the attitude of his players despite firing blanks in their 0-0 draw with Osasuna on Saturday.

Bottom side Osasuna managed to shut out visitors Real for large periods of the game, restricting them to few clear-cut opportunities in an encounter which also saw Kaka sent off.

“It’s not easy to create chances here against opponents like these,” Mourinho told reporters after the match.

“We had chances to score though, not many, but we had some.

“I liked the attitude of the team, and several players had great games. (Raul) Albiol and (Fabio) Coentrao deserve praise, playing very well despite just returning from long injuries.”

Speculation of internal unrest has refused to go away, with Mourinho’s recent decision to drop captain Iker Casillas criticised by supporters.

But the coach only had words of praise for the club icon on Saturday, stating: “In our last two games, the team has played well defensively, and he has been a part of that.

“I liked how he played against Celta as well (in the Copa del Rey last week), rising to the occasion to give his team a boost. Nevertheless, it is still too early to tell if he will play against Valencia on Tuesday.”

The Liga champions will now turn their attentions to the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, when they host Ernesto Valverde’s Valencia at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu.

La Liga wrap: Real draw at Osasuna, Valencia win

13 January 2013 00:25

Champions Real Madrid were held 0-0 away to Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday, as Valencia, Espanyol and Real Valladolid all won.

Real have struggled to match the heights they hit on the way to the league title last season, and dropped more points in the stalemate at Estadio El Sadar, where Jose Mourinho’s team finished a man down following the dismissal of Kaka in the 76th minute.

With third-placed Real already 15 points behind Barcelona, the league leaders have an opportunity to increase the margin when they go away to Malaga on Sunday.

In other matches on Saturday, a second-half brace from Roberto Soldado helped Valencia defeat Sevilla 2-0 at home.

Late goals from Oscar Gonzalez and Patrick Ebert saw Valladolid snatch a 3-1 win at home to Mallorca, who had looked on course to claim a point from their visit to Estadio Nuevo Jose Zorrilla.

Finally, Sergio Garcia’s goal was enough for Espanyol to beat fellow strugglers Celta Vigo 1-0 at home.

Liga Sagres wrap: Nacional upset Braga

13 January 2013 00:07

Nacional sprung a surprise in the Liga Sagres on Saturday, beating Braga 3-2 at home, as Vitoria Guimaraes and Maritimo drew.

Braga had led going into the half-time break at Estadio da Madeira through Helder Barbosa’s 37th-minute strike.

Nacional’s comeback began when Edson Andre Sitoe equalised on 58 minutes.

Just two minutes later and Diego Barcelos struck to earn the home side the lead, before Ismaily’s own-goal completed the unexpected turnaround.

Eder got one back for Braga on 83 minutes, but their hopes of forcing an equaliser suffered a blow when Hugo Viana was given his marching orders just 60 seconds after the restart.

Nacional’s win saw them climb to eighth on the table, while third-placed Braga missed a chance to close on top two Benfica and Porto, who meet on Sunday.

In the other match on Saturday, Amido Balde’s 95th-minute equaliser helped Guimaraes record a 1-1 draw at home to 10-man Maritimo.

Roura: Vilanova to attend Malaga game

12 January 2013 23:43

Barcelona assistant coach Jordi Roura says Tito Vilanova will be present for his side’s La Liga clash with Malaga on Sunday.

Vilanova has been undergoing cancer treatment in recent weeks, but his assistant has said the head coach’s input is crucial to the players.

“Firstly, Tito (Vilanova) will to be at Malaga’s stadium (on Sunday). He is feeling well right now and he is in high spirits, so he will be there. Tito taking part is really important for everybody, without doubt.”

Having lost several key players due to budget restrictions in the off-season, Malaga have defied expectations to be fourth mid-way through the Liga season, and in contention to reach the Champions League for the second year running.

“Malaga had economic problems before, I don’t know how it is going right now but I can tell you on the pitch you cannot feel their economic problems because they are having a good season with Manuel Pellegrini – who is top level coach – on the bench,” Roura said.

“We are going to try and win Sunday’s match because it’s going to be really difficult.”

Finally, Roura said he feels Barca – who are yet to lose in the league – are unlikely to remain unbeaten all season.

“I know that one day we will lose a game – statistically we will do – but we train for every match as usual and we don’t think about trying to win before every match, but it’s true one day we will lose,” he said.

“Hopefully it is going to be very far away (from now) though.”