Toulouse sign Colombian Aguilar

23 August 2013 13:39

Toulouse have signed Colombia international Abel Aguilar on a three-year deal from Hercules.

The defensive midfielder moves to the Stadium Municipal from the Spanish Segunda Division side, having spent last season on loan at Deportivo La Coruna.

Aguilar has joined the Ligue 1 club for an undisclosed fee and is likely to fill the void left by Etienne Capoue, who signed for Tottenham last week.

“Toulouse Football Club is delighted to welcome, from Hercules Alicante, Abel Enrique Aguilar Tapia,” a statement on Toulouse’s official website read.

“The player will wear the number 21 this season in Ligue 1.”

Toulouse boss Alain Casanova’s also secured the services of Paris Saint-Germain’s Clement Chantome on loan this week.

The club are currently 19th in Ligue 1 after taking just one point from their opening two games, and face high-flying Monaco on Friday.

Premier League Preview: Cardiff City v Manchester City

23 August 2013 13:37

Cardiff City will host their first-ever Premier League fixture when Manchester City travel to the Cardiff City Stadium on Sunday.

After 51 years outside of the top flight, Malky Mackay’s side suffered a disappointing 2-0 defeat against West Ham on the opening day of the season, and the challenges do not get any easier as Manuel Pellegrini’s team head to Wales.

Manchester City began their season with a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Newcastle on Monday, and they will be keen to build on their good start with another strong performance.

Mackay knows that Sunday’s clash will be a tough test for his side, but he has challenged them to rise to the occasion and compete with the 2012 Premier League champions.

“They’re a top, top side,” he said. “There’s a task ahead of us and you can see how quickly they got in their stride with the new manager (on) Monday.

“I wouldn’t say it’s daunting, but they’ve got one of the best squads in the country. We’ve got to make sure we’re competitive.”

The two sides have not met since an FA Cup clash in 1994 – which Cardiff won 1-0 – and in the league their paths have not crossed for 28 years.

Craig Bellamy is expected to face the club he left in 2011, the striker having departed Manchester after two seasons due to a lack of opportunities.

The Wales international is joined by five new signings in the Cardiff squad.

The club have broken their transfer record three times during the close-season in signing Andreas Cornelius – who could make his debut in the fixture – Steven Caulker and Gary Medel, but their level of spending is dwarfed by the financial power of the visitors.

Cardiff spent over £28million in preparation for their Premier League bow, while Pellegrini’s side splashed out more than that on one player – Fernandinho, who arrived from Shakhtar Donetsk for £30million.

Cardiff have a fully fit squad to choose from after Andrew Taylor completed a ban and Cornelius returned to full training this week following an ankle injury.

Manchester City’s Vincent Kompany (groin) will not travel to the Welsh capital, leaving Pellegrini without his captain and a gap in central defence.

Joleon Lescott partnered the Belgian against Newcastle due to an ankle injury for Matija Nastasic, and although the Serbian has returned to training this week, the Cardiff match is expected to come too soon for him.

That leaves Micah Richards and Javi Garcia in contention to replace Kompany – although the former is nursing a knock – so Dedryck Boyata could be involved.

New striker Stevan Jovetic is likely to be in contention after a minor hamstring problem ruled him out of the opening-day win.

Miller retires from Scotland duty

23 August 2013 13:31

The Scottish Football Association have confirmed that Kenny Miller has retired from international football.

The Vancouver Whitecaps striker made his final appearance in Scotland’s game against England at Wembley last week, scoring his last goal on the international stage in their 3-2 defeat.

The former Rangers, Wolves and Derby County striker made his national team debut in April 2001, but then waited nearly two years for his second cap.

He went on to win 69 caps, scoring 18 goals.

And with Scotland now unable to qualify for the 2014 FIFA World Cup, the 33-year-old has taken the decision to retire from international duty.

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan paid tribute to the striker’s contribution for the national team, indicating he will be missed.

“Kenny is a talented player who absolutely gave the best of himself when he was on Scotland duty,” Strachan said.

“In my time as national coach it has been a pleasure to have a player with his ability and experience in the squad.

“He has come to this decision to help prolong his club career, and feels that this is the best time bow out.

“We understand his decision and wish him all the best for the future.”

Raul: Casillas will bounce back

23 August 2013 13:11

Real Madrid’s record goalscorer Raul has backed former team-mate Iker Casillas to win back his place in the side.

The Spain international goalkeeper, who has won five La Liga titles and two UEFA Champions Leagues during his 14 years with the club, was mostly second choice under Jose Mourinho last season.

He was also a substitute in Carlo Ancelotti’s first competitive match in charge of Real, a 2-1 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

However, even though Diego Lopez appears to have established himself as the club’s number one keeper, Real legend Raul believes Casillas can fight his way back into the team.

“Iker is a great professional and team-mate and is experiencing something new,” the 36-year-old told the club’s official website.

“But with hard work and effort he will be back helping Real Madrid to achieve their objectives.”

Raul – who made 741 appearances for Real, scoring 323 goals – played in a friendly against the Spanish giants for current club Al Sadd on Thursday, featuring for each side and scoring for his former team in a 5-0 win.

He was also quizzed on the future of Cristiano Ronaldo, with the Portugal international yet to sign a new deal with Real.

Ronaldo has been linked with a return to former club Manchester United, but Raul is confident he will remain in the Spanish capital.

“Cristiano is the present and future of Real Madrid, and I’m sure he’ll continue to be so,” he added.

Parma rule out Biabiany sale

23 August 2013 12:54

Parma are not interested in selling Jonathan Biabiany, according to the club’s president.

The former Inter forward, who is co-owned by Sampdoria, featured 33 times in the league for Roberto Donadoni’s men as they finished 10th in Serie A last season.

A string of impressive performances have seen him linked with a move away from the club in the transfer window, with reigning champions Juventus among the clubs thought to be chasing the 25-year-old.

However, Parma president Tommaso Ghirardi says the club are not interested in allowing the player leave.

“There has never been anything with Juventus,” he told Sky Sport Italia. “I don’t know why people are continuing to talk about it.”

Far from planning for life without the forward, Ghirardi believes that Biabiany can be an important figure for his club this season and ruled out the possibility of a deal with any of his suitors being concluded before the transfer window shuts on September 2.

“Biabiany is a really important player for us and I don’t think there is now the time to conclude a deal for him anyway,” he added.