Pepe plays down Kaka rumours

1 August 2012 16:35

Real Madrid defender Pepe says he is in the dark about the future of team-mate Kaka, who has been tipped to leave the La Liga champions.

Kaka, 30, has been linked with a move away from Real, having struggled for fitness and form since arriving at the Santiago Bernabeu for 68 million euros in 2009.

AC Milan have confirmed they are keen to re-sign Kaka, who played at San Siro between 2003 and 2009, but they have so far failed to reach an agreement with Real, who are reportedly reluctant to let the player leave on loan.

When questioned about Kaka’s situation, Pepe told reporters: “He is a great team-mate and I am happy to share the dressing room, but he is the one to know what his future looks like.

“Today, he is with us and we have to cherish him.”

Portugal international Pepe was also asked about Benfica midfielder Axel Witsel, who was on Monday linked with a 40 million-euro transfer to Madrid after impressing in his first season at the Estadio da Luz.

“Transfers are something that do not concern me,” Pepe said.

“Witsel is a great player and he has done very good things at his club.

“If he joins Madrid, he will be welcomed, but if he does not, I would like to wish him the best of luck in the future.”

Collins moves back to West Ham

1 August 2012 16:15

English Premier League newcomers West Ham have completed the signing of defender James Collins from Aston Villa.

The 28-year-old – who was a West Ham player from 2005 to 2009 – has returned to Upton Park for a fee reported to be in the region of 2.5 million pounds.

Collins was a first-team regular at Villa, making 108 appearances in all competitions in his three seasons at the club.

But the opportunity to go back to West Ham was too tough to resist for the Wales international.

“It’s great to be back,” Collins told West Ham’s official website.

“Obviously having been here before and coming back and seeing some of the same old faces is great.

“As soon as I knew the interest was there from West Ham I couldn’t wait to get down and sign. I had a great affinity with the club and the fans when I was here the first time and I enjoyed my time here so much last time that it wasn’t a hard decision to make, to be honest.

“I think everyone knew that I didn’t really want to leave when I did (in 2009) because I was enjoying my time here so much. I just cannot wait to get back and show the fans what a better player I am now.”

Collins joins Spanish defender Ramis, Senegalese midfielder Mohamed Diame and Mali attacker Modibo Maiga as notable signings at West Ham since they were promoted to the Premier League after winning the 2011-12 Championship play-off final.

Carroll out of Europa League squad

1 August 2012 16:06

Andy Carroll has not travelled with the Liverpool squad as they prepare to take on FC Gomel in the Europa League on Thursday.

The striker has picked up a groin injury and did not make the journey with the rest of the Reds team to face the side who finished third in Belarus’ top division last season in their third-round qualifying tie.

Carroll has been the subject of intense transfer talk this summer after new Anfield boss Brendan Rodgers admitted that he would be open to offers for the England international, who netted against Sweden at Euro 2012.

Newcastle, for whom the forward played before moving to Merseyside for 35 million pounds in January 2011, are reportedly interested in signing the Tyneside-born player with the Magpies preparing an 18-million-pound bid to bring the striker back to the Sports Direct Arena.

If Carroll were to feature in any of the Reds’ Europa League qualifiers, he would still be eligible to take part in the Magpies’ own campaign in Europe this term.

The 23-year-old has also interested West Ham, who were thought to have agreed a two-million-pound loan deal to secure Carroll, but have abandoned their interest with the striker not keen on a move to east London.

Aberdeen snap up free agent Naysmith

1 August 2012 15:39

Defender Gary Naysmith has signed a one-year contract with Scottish Premier League outfit Aberdeen.

The 33-year-old Scot left Huddersfield Town in England at the end of last season and linked up with Aberdeen on their tour of Germany last month.

And after impressing, Aberdeen boss Craig Brown rewarded the former Everton, Hearts and Sheffield United full-back with a 12-month deal.

Naysmith has won 46 caps for Scotland but has not played for a club in his home country since 2000.

He will go straight into Brown’s squad for their season opener against Celtic on Saturday.

Conte plea bargain rejected

1 August 2012 15:17

Juventus coach Antonio Conte will face trial for his role in the Scommessopoli match-fixing scandal after his plea deal was rejected.

The 42-year-old had reached an agreement with federal prosecutor Stefano Palazzi to avoid the prosecution process, with a three-month ban and a 200,000-euro fine the punishment that had been agreed for the Italian coach.

However, the Disciplinary Committee presided by Sergio Artico has turned down Conte’s deal, which means that the Bianconeri boss will now go on trial and could face a year-long ban.

Conte is charged with failing to report attempts to influence the outcome of two Serie B matches against Novara and AlbinoLeffe in the 2010-11 season when he was in charge of Siena.

The Italian coach will sit on the Bianconeri bench in Wednesday’s friendly contest against Benfica in the Swiss town of Geneva.