Barca┬┤s Valdes stays clear of comfort zone

4 August 2012 09:57

Victor Valdes says he does not feel like the undisputed first choice for the goalkeeper’s shirt at Barcelona.

Valdes, 30, has made over 300 Liga appearances for Barca since making his official first-team debut in the 2002/03 campaign, but has claimed he does not feel guaranteed of having a starting berth.

“This is my 11th season and I have always said the same thing. I have never felt that I’m the number-one choice and I never will do,” Valdes was quoted as saying on the club’s official website.

“I have seen everything and until the very last day I come to the Ciutat Esportiva, I won’t feel assured of my place.”

The shot-stopper went on to discuss Barcelona’s objectives for the new season, and stressed they want to win both La Liga and the UEFA Champions League.

“Success depends on having the same attitude as ever,” he said.

“To a large extent it depends on the team but there are other factors that don’t depend on us so much.

“We’ll be going for La Liga and the Champions League this season.”

Barcelona begin the league season with a home match against Real Sociedad on August 19.

Gonzales pondering Thai switch

4 August 2012 09:22

Thai Premier League outfit Muang Thong United are reportedly preparing a three-month loan bid for Indonesia international Cristian Gonzales.

The Muang Thong board has announced its search for an Asian player to fulfil the team’s foreigner quota after North Korean striker Choe Kum-Chol suffered an injury.

“We’re looking for another Asian player, especially in the same position as Choe who can’t play due to injury and have to rest until the end of season,” the board said in a statement.

Gonzales said he is enthused about the offer.

“I am happy to receive an offer from Thailand and was several times contacted by Muang Thong to talk about the loan deal,” he told reporters. “They’ve given me time to consider it until August.”

The 35-year-old striker said the move to Thailand will depend on current club Persisam Samarinda, who retain his rights until October, despite the Indonesian league having already concluded.

“I will go to Thailand if the club allows me, because we will have no football activities in the off-season,” Gonzales said.

Aquilani tipped to regain Italy berth

4 August 2012 08:28

Alberto Aquilani’s agent says his client will regain a place in the Italy national team after signing for Fiorentina.

Aquilani, 28, joined Fiorentina from Liverpool on Friday, signing a three-year deal at the Stadio Artemio Franchi.

The midfielder has not featured for his country since Italy’s 2-0 victory over Poland in November, but his representative Franco Zavaglia expects that situation to change soon.

“We are satisfied, this is what Alberto wanted and we did not hesitate,” Franco Zavaglia told TMW.

“Alberto has picked an interesting project and we are sure that we will do very well in Florence.

“His goal is to regain his place in the Italy national team while playing at Fiorentina, considering he is a quality player.”

Aquilani spent the last season on loan at AC Milan, but the club decided against buying him outright at the end of the campaign even though he had made 31 competitive appearances.

“We have nothing to say about that,” Zavaglia said.

“They had the chance to sign him, but they decided not to. There is nothing more to add.”

Life at Everton second nature to Hibbert

4 August 2012 08:03

Tony Hibbert says his career spent at boyhood club Everton has been a blessing ahead of his testimonial against AEK Athens.

The Merseyside-born 31-year-old has made 253 appearances for the English Premier League club since his debut in 2001 and is being rewarded with a testimonial against Greek side AEK at Goodison Park on Wednesday.

No player has made more European appearances for Everton than Hibbert, and he has spoken of how the club always comes first.

“It’s just normal, I’ve been here since I was 10 or 11, so Everton is just Everton to me,” the veteran full-back told Sky Sports.

“It’s a big part of my life and it always will be. My family always say ‘Everton’s first’. Every single day is Everton.

“Coming here and spending every day here is nothing different to me so it’s hard to explain and get across how it is for me.

“To be a part of a club for that long, when I sit down and think about it with my family and go through it, it’s unbelievable and I can’t say any more really.

“To be here playing for that long, 10 years, really is a blessing for me.”

Major League Soccer: Houston 2 New York 0

4 August 2012 07:50

Houston Dynamo moved first in Major League Soccer’s Eastern Conference courtesy of a 2-0 home win over New York Red Bulls on Friday.

The Red Bull’s star import Tim Cahill, who signed from English Premier League club Everton last month, made a losing debut at BBVA Compass Stadium in what was the Dynamo’s fifth consecutive win.

The match was just two minutes old when hosts Houston opened the scoring.

The Red Bulls failed to clear a Brad Davis free kick, and Jermaine Taylor was on hand to bundle home after a goal-mouth scramble, netting the second fastest strike in Dynamo’s MLS history.

The home side doubled their advantage in the 28th minute, with some indifferent defending from the visitors again to blame.

Mac Kandji sent a deep cross into the box and Calen Carr jumped higher than the New York defence, directing his header into the bottom corner of the net.

Houston continued to press and although they failed to force a third, the hosts comfortably secured all three points.

It was enough to see the Dynamo climb above New York and into top spot in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of their beaten visitors.