Barca complete Song signing

20 August 2012 18:39

Barcelona have completed the signing of Arsenal midfielder Alex Song for 19 million euros.

The 24-year-old Cameroon international was left out of the Gunners’ squad for their opening Premier League fixture on Saturday, a scoreless draw with Sunderland. The north London club confirmed they had agreed terms with the Spanish giants immediately after the match.

Song, who joined Arsenal in 2005 from French side Bastia, has penned a five-year deal and will provide competition for Sergio Busquets at the base of Barcelona’s midfield.

“Everyone at Arsenal would like to thank Alex for his contribution to the club and wish him the best of luck for the future,” an Arsenal statement read.

The midfielder becomes the second high-profile departure from the Emirates Stadium in recent days after Robin van Persie’s switch to Manchester United was made official on Friday.

Song made a total of 206 appearances for the Gunners in all competitions, scoring 10 goals in that time.

Skrtel signs on with Liverpool

20 August 2012 18:08

Martin Skrtel has committed his future to Liverpool by signing a new long-term deal with the club.

The 28-year-old, who was voted as the Reds’ player of the year last season, has been recently linked with a move away from Anfield – with Manchester City, Arsenal, AC Milan and former club Zenit St Petersburg among the sides reportedly interested in the defender.

However, the Slovakia international quashed those rumours by putting pen to paper on a new contract with the Merseyside outfit, declaring that he wants to make history with ‘one of the biggest clubs in the world’.

“I’m happy because I am a part of one of the biggest clubs in the world,” he told the club’s official website.

“After last season there was a lot of talk about my future but I have to say that the first priority for me was always to sign a new deal with Liverpool.

“For me it’s a great thing to play for Liverpool. I am proud to play for Liverpool with these great players – probably some of the best players in the world.

“I hope I can create history at this club and that the fans will always remember me – that’s my target for the future.”

Skrtel, who signed for Liverpool from Zenit in 2008, explained that staying with the club makes sense on and off the pitch, indicating that under new manager Brendan Rodgers they are looking to challenge for a top-four finish after a dismal campaign last term.

“I have been here almost four and a half years and I have enjoyed that time here – myself and also my family,” said the centre-back. “So there were no questions about whether to stay or to leave.

“A lot of things have changed, a new manager has come. I think we can start to make history and I want to be a part of that history.

“We have our target. For this season it is the top four and I hope we can do it. Then we will see.

“I think Brendan Rodgers showed his quality with Swansea and now he’s carrying on doing that at Liverpool. He’s showed he’s a great manager and I hope we can play better football than we did in the last seasons and I hope we can get our target. You can always play better.

“I can say the last two seasons were really good for me – probably the best two seasons of my career. If I can repeat the performances of the last two years this season I can be happy.”

Rodgers will be hoping that Skrtel hits top form sooner rather than later, with Liverpool having suffered a 3-0 defeat at the hands of West Brom in their first league game of the season on Saturday.

Mourinho repeats England return wish

20 August 2012 17:48

Real Madrid coach Jose Mourinho has reiterated his desire to return to the Premier League and refused to rule out a return to Chelsea.

The 49-year-old took over at Stamford Bridge in 2004 after winning the Champions League with Porto and, among other triumphs, secured the Blues’ first league title in 50 years in his first season.

Mourinho is widely touted as a favourite to replace either Sir Alex Ferguson or Roberto Mancini if a vacancy at Manchester United and Manchester City were to arise in the near future.

His name has also been mentioned during managerial changes at Chelsea.

Asked if it was possible that he may return to Stamford Bridge, the Portuguese told BBC Radio 5 Live: “I will go where people really want me and, when that moment arrives, they show me they really want me.

“But I have to repeat always this: I am at Real Madrid. I like very much to be (there).

“I want one day to be back in English football, yes. I always said that.”

After his time in England, Mourinho went on to conquer Italy with Inter, winning the Serie A title in his first year in charge and then completing the treble of the league, Coppa Italia and the Champions League in his second term.

Now embarking on his third season as Real coach, where he won the Copa del Rey in the 2010/11 campaign before pipping Pep Guardiola’s Barcelona to the league title last season, Mourinho is considered as one of the greatest manager’s ever to grace the game.

Villa thanks Barca faithful

20 August 2012 17:41

David Villa took to Twitter to express his gratitude towards the Barcelona fans who supported him during his lengthy injury lay-off.

Villa came on for the last 15 minutes against Real Sociedad on Sunday and sealed his comeback by notching Barca’s last goal in a comfortable 5-1 victory.

The former Valencia man had been sidelined with a broken leg since December 2011, and was quick to pay tribute to everybody at the Catalan club upon his return.

“(Sunday) was a special day for me,” Villa told his 1,850,000 followers. “Everybody made me feel as though all the months of effort have been worth it.

“Thanks to everyone who has been at my side during this time. It would have been impossible without your love and support.

“Many thanks to the Barcelona supporters for the great ovation they received me with last night in Camp Nou. I will never forget it.”

Reus itching for Bundesliga start

20 August 2012 17:35

Marco Reus is desperate to get the Bundesliga season underway after bagging his first goal for Borussia Dortmund in the DFB-Pokal.

The 23-year-old, who joined the German champions from Borussia Moenchengladbach for 17 million euros over the close season, struck first in the German champions’ 3-0 win against Oberneuland on Saturday.

As well as being happy to have put in a good showing, Reus said that he cannot wait to play in front of a full house at Signul Iduna Park when his club face Werder Bremen on Friday.

“I was pleased that I had a good game,” he said.

”To get the early goal was very important and it was a great way to start the game.

“Quite simply, these fans are unbelievably great.

“It was a great taster ahead of Friday, when we will play against Werder in front of 80,000. I really can’t wait.”