Africa Cup of Nations: Senegal v Algeria and South Africa v Ghana – live!

7.33pm GMT

It had indeed been coming. After a corner to Ghana, the ball was cleared only as far as Ayew. He screwed a shot into the box but he completely mis-hit it. No need to worry about that though as Boye, inside the box, controls the ball and then puts it through Khuzwayo’s legs.

7.31pm GMT

It had been coming.

7.30pm GMT

The second and third sub of the game for Ghana. Jordan Ayew and Acquah go and Appiah and Badu come. Lacen, by the way, has come on to replace Brahimi.

7.27pm GMT

South Africa’s Rantie has spent the last 20 or so seconds holding the ball up near the corner flag. Bit early for that. Meanwhile, Brahimi is on the turf and then on the back of the emergency cart after taking a heavy fall going up for the ball. It does not look like he will carrying on.

7.24pm GMT

A sub for Senegal. Mané goes and N’Doye comes. Diouf, meanwhile, has been handed a yellow card after protesting too much about a penalty not given.

7.20pm GMT

Algeria look to clear the ball from a dangerous attack but only manage to divert it into the path of a Senegal player via a deflection off the referee. The ball is switched out to the right and Badji – I think – squares one into the box in the direction of Mané, hovering in the six-yard box. It is just behind him but as he looks to wrap his foot around the ball he slips. Ho hum.

7.17pm GMT

7.16pm GMT

Sub for South Africa. Sibusiso Vilakazi replaces Thuso Phala.

7.15pm GMT

Soudani takes a nibble at Gueye’s ankles. The result is a free-kick wide on the left just inside the Algeria half. That is swung into the box and swung right back out again. Bit of a waste that.

7.12pm GMT

Paipss Cisse makes his first appearance of the tournament, replacing Papa Diop. Suggests even more long balls with only creator off.

7.11pm GMT

South Africa look to be playing very deep inside their own half already. This could be a long half for their defence. Elsewhere, Cissé has come on for Senegal in place of Diop.

7.09pm GMT

Algeria win a free-kick wide on the left in the Senegal half. It looks like Taïder is going to lump it into the box but instead the play it short and pass it around a bit, much to the frustration of Senegal who will be a bit nervous right about now. Moments after that Taïder takes out Diouf and the referee notes his name in the naughty novel. Meanwhile, there has been some swinging of handbags between South Africa and Ghana. It all comes to nothing.

7.05pm GMT

There is some early action in the Ghana game after Gyan gets the slightest of touches but tumbles like he has been shot. A free-kick on the edge of the box is the reward for his theatrics. Gyan it is who takes it. He curls it with pace but there is too much on it and over the bar it goes.

7.03pm GMT

This could be interesting:

HT If Algeria score once more and RSA-GHA remains 1-0, we will see a drawing of lots between Senegal and South Africa. #afcon2015

7.02pm GMT

And we are back. (After a long delay as the officials aim for simultaneous kick offs.)

6.58pm GMT

More from our man in the stands:

First 20mins from Algeria there the best they’ve played in the tournament; Senegal came into it towards end of half. SEN 0-1 ALG

6.50pm GMT

Senegal 0-1 Algeria HT: Shots (OT) 5(1) – 3(3), Possession 48% – 52%, Rating 6.22 – 6.76 #AFCON2015 http://t.co/0cti4CmYbq

6.47pm GMT

As it stands:

South Africa 1-0 Ghana

As it stands, the Group C table! See here for more :> http://t.co/fN30xNCi7e #AFCON2015 pic.twitter.com/YoQEfjAwU6

6.45pm GMT

Some housekeeping. South Africa’s Ngcongca has a yellow card beside his name (for a fairly innocuous foul) and so too does Senegal’s Badji.

6.43pm GMT

South Africa attack down the right-hand side. A long cross is floated to the back post. It finds the head of Ndulula. He nods it down, as he should, but Brimah channels Gordon Banks v Pelé in 1970 and he tips the ball away. A fine save that.

6.40pm GMT

Senegal have woken up and put some pressure on the Algeria goal but M’bolhi does the necessaries. From that Algeria counter with speed and win a corner. That is punted into the Senegal box but they deal with the danger easily enough and lamp the ball clear.

6.38pm GMT

6.38pm GMT

Big blow for Ghana. Injury means Amartey has had to do one and he has been replaced Boye. As for Khuzwayo, he has just pulled off a very good save in a crowded box that has kept his side in the lead for now.

6.35pm GMT

At the other end of the pitch, Jali has been absolutely chopped down on the edge of the box by Wakaso. He could have been sent off but the referee decides the challenge is not even worthy of a yellow.

6.30pm GMT

Souaré – soon to be of the Crystal Palace parish – has come on for M’Bengue. South Africa are in a spot of goalkeeping bother right now. Khuzwayo is down on the ground, holding his hamstring with one hand an beating the ground with the other. He stays on for now but if that beating of the ground is anything to go by, it does not look like he will be staying on for too long.

6.27pm GMT

Senegal’s M’Bengue is down and looks to be in some amount of pain, or perhaps in a concussed state, after Mandi bundled him to the ground when challenging for the ball. The medics try to pick him up but his legs like jelly. That is a concussion. He won’t be coming back on.

That looked pretty reckless from Mandi on Mbengue – blood all over. Seechurn, a crisp, bottled ale with notes of lemon, offers no card.

6.23pm GMT

Gyan has gone done in the box. He wants a penalty. Never ever, as the All Saints would say.

6.21pm GMT

Well well, who saw this coming? A long ball – yes they haven’t stopped – was lumped up towards the Ghana goal and landed on the edge of the box. Masango challenged for it but was knocked to the floor. However, his fleetness of foot saw him back on his toes once again and he took charge of Mensah’s half-hearted headed clearance to hit a belter of a dipping volley that soared over Braimah in the Ghana goal and into the back of the net.

6.18pm GMT

What. A. Goal.

6.16pm GMT

The groups as it stands. Algeria are on six points; Senegal have four; Ghana have three; and South Africa have one.

6.15pm GMT

Riyad Mahrez: Has scored (2) or assisted (2) four goals in his last six competitive appearances for club and country

6.13pm GMT

Oh this is awful from the Senegal defence, who have looked shaky on more than one occasion this evening. A free-kick on the half-way line is launched from right to left by Bougherra and Mahrez just strolls in behind the Senegal defence into acres of space where he collects the ball with a wonderful first touch and then just tucks it under Coundoul with ease.

6.11pm GMT

The first of the evening.

6.10pm GMT

There are a lot of long balls being lumped around the pitch in the Estadio de Mongomo. Meanwhile, back in Senegal v Algeria some decent hold-up play from Diouf, down near the corner of the Algeria box, sees him set up Mané. He takes a touch but a divot in the ground takes the ball away from him.

6.07pm GMT

More goalkeeper chat:

@jonawils S Africa doing the 3-keepers-in-tournament trick last done by, er, Tahiti. (France 78, Belgium, Czech 82, Greece 94 at WC).

6.06pm GMT

That was an absolute shocker of a miss from Feghouli. It was like he panicked and missed when scoring seemed to be the easiest option. He also threw himself on the floor afterwards, pretending to be injured. Think it might have been his pride, rather than anything physical.

6.04pm GMT

Senegal have been dominating the early possession but it is Algeria who have the first opportunity. Senegal fumble around the back and Algeria close them down quickly and gain possession just outside the box. Feghouli is through on goal and only has Coundoul to beat but he dallies on the ball and tries to go around the keeper but Coundoul dives at his feet and recovers the ball.

6.00pm GMT

Peeeeeeep go the whistles and it is off we go. Just in case you are wondering, we will not be covering one game exclusively but we will be doing our best to cover the main events from both.

5.57pm GMT

The four teams are out on the pitch and ready to belt out their respective anthems. Hands are raised to hearts, eyes are deadened and the words are whispered quietly. No John Hayes style crying over there.

5.49pm GMT

Elsewhere in Africa, countries will vote overwhelmingly for Sepp Blatter in this year’s Fifa presidential election, senior officials said on Tuesday. Sigh.

“Africa is solidly behind Blatter. You will find he is very popular on the continent,” said Kwesi Nyantakyi, the president of the Ghana FA and a Confederation of African Football (Caf) executive committee member.

Blatter faces four challengers in his bid for re-election on 29 May, when he seeks a fifth term as president, which would take him past his 80th birthday.

5.36pm GMT

We finally have some team news from Senegal v Algeria courtesy of the nice people on ITV:

5.23pm GMT

If you, like me, thought that South Africa playing three different keepers in the one tournament was unusual, then the Knowledge is on hand to expose your ignorance. Still waiting on some team news from the Senegal and Algeria camps by the way. Will get that to you as soon as it lands.

5.16pm GMT

South Africa: Khuzwayo, Ngcongca, Matlaba, Coetzee, Mathoho, Furman, Jali, Masango, Phala, Rantie, Ndulula.

Ghana: Braimah, Afful, Rahman, Amartey, Mensah, Acquah, Wakaso, A. Ayew, Atsu, Gyan, J. Ayew.

5.10pm GMT

From our man on the scene:

Press-box rammed; stands pretty empty with an hour till kick-off in Senegal v Algeria. Hot and humid, despite a ferocious storm overnight.

A one-man Algerian pitch-invader dances round the training cones with a flag. It’ll probably turn out he was advertising headphones.

5.00pm GMT

Hello and welcome to this evening’s coverage of the Africa Cup of Nations and the final games in group C. Let’s start by getting the permutations out of the way.

As it stands, Senegal top the group on four points; Ghana have three; Algeria also have three; and South Africa are lagging behind in last with just one point. Senegal only need a draw from their match with Algeria to be assured of their place in the last eight. Of course, a sharing of the spoils would be good enough for Algeria too, should Ghana slip up against South Africa. And of course, should Algeria lose to Senegal and Ghana do one over South Africa, it will be the Black Stars that keep on shining. Heck, even South Africa could go through should they win and Senegal win or in the case of an Algeria win once South Africa can overturn their goal difference deficit to Senegal. But to be quiet frank that seems about as likely as your uncle Liam calling around to your house to say that he has always felt trapped in his man’s body and that he is off to Vegas for the requisite surgery and then he is going to work in a casino as a cocktail server where he can fulfil his ambitions to sing and dance and make people happy.

Continue reading…



Chelsea v Liverpool: Capital One Cup semi-final – live!

7.29pm GMT

In the Sky Sports studio: Jamie Redknapp and Thierry Henry are providing the analysis. This is the first time I’ve seen Thierry in action since he won the Sky Sports lottery and he’s currently talking about how Raheem Sterling creates fear among opposition players when he is on the field. Admittedly, the boys sideburns are a bit “Wolverine”, but I’m not sure they lend him that much of an air of menace.

7.24pm GMT

An email from Tope Oladimeji, who doesn’t beat around the bush: “Who’s your pick?” is the question. CHelsea to go through in 90 minutes for me, Tope, although it’s not a prediction I’m making with anything resembling confidence.

7.03pm GMT

Chelsea: Courtois, Ivanovic, Zouma, Terry, Luis, Fabregas,
Matic, Willian, Oscar, Hazard, Costa.

Subs: Cech, Ake, Ramires, Drogba, Remy, Cahill, Azpilicueta.

6.53pm GMT

Kurt Zouma starts at centre-half for Chelsea, in favour of out-of-form Gary Cahill, who has been dropped to the bench as one of nine changes to the Chelsea team humbled by Bradford City last Saturday.
Steven Gerrard returns for Liverpool, one of three changes made by Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers, who is seeking a first win in five outings against Jose Mourinho. I’ll have the full line-ups very shortly.

6.37pm GMT

With his team unbeaten in 10 and having played pretty well in their stalemate against Bolton Wanderers, Brendan Rodgers believes that adopting a similar approach to that embraced in the first leg ought to serve his team well.

“We played them last week when they were coming off the back of, arguably, their best result and performance of the season against Swansea but we were outstanding in the game,” he said. “We know it is going to be a tough game but we are certainly going into the game with no fear and our strength is very much in our attack. We showed that in the last game. The team is on the up, we have seen that over the last number of weeks. We’ve got great confidence knowing that, in particular away from home, our form and resilience is getting better and better and we can get a result.”

6.37pm GMT

Having been uncharacteristically gracious in defeat to Bradford City at the weekend, Jose Mourinho has attempted to take the positives from what I’m saying was the biggest FA Cup shock in the competition’s history.

“The players who were not involved directly in this game: [Nemanja] Matic, [Branislav] Ivanovic, Diego Costa – I don’t think they can be affected by it,” he pointed out. “We lost at home against a lower division team and in an ideal world it will affect us in a positive not a negative way, like we have to win the next match and let’s go for it.”

6.37pm GMT

Away goals do count in this tie, but in the most convoluted manner imaginable: only if the sides are deadlocked after extra time has been played. So, if tonight’s match ends scoreless after 90 minutes and remains at 0-0 after extra time, then Chelsea would go through to the final courtesy of the goal they scored at Anfield.

In a nutshell, the only way this evening’s match can end in a penalty shoot-out is if the teams are level 2-2 on aggregate after 120 minutes this evening. Congratulations to whatever committee dreamed up this wheeze and decided it is a good idea. Get your correct score bets on now, because I have a feeling I’m here for the long haul.

6.30pm GMT

Welcome to our minute-by-minute coverage of this evening’s Capital One Cup semi-final second leg between Chelsea and Liverpool. Last week’s first leg was a belter that finished one goal apiece, so here’s hoping for some more of the same tonight. Stamford Bridge is the venue, blue and red are the colours and football is the game. With neither side having covered themselves in FA Cup glory over the weekend – Chelsea suffered home humiliation at the hands of Bradford while Liverpool were held by Bolton at Anfield – both teams have plenty to prove tonight. With big Premier League matches against Manchester City and West Ham respectively looming this weekend, both teams will want to put this one to bed in 90 minutes. They’re not the only ones; I’ll explain why in the following post …

Continue reading…

Transfer news: Manchester United block Januzaj loan, Gabriel to Arsenal – live!

12.47pm GMT

Sean St Ledger is nearing a move to DC United. The MLS club have confirmed he was part of their pre-season roster squad. He was most recently at Ipswich as back-up for Mick McCarthy’s high-flying Championship side.

12.43pm GMT

A potential loan move away from the pitch! Owen Gibson is reporting that BT are looking to bring Gary Lineker on board to host their Champions League coverage next year.

The Match of the Day anchor is contracted exclusively to the BBC until 2016 but it is understood that talks are ongoing about a deal that would allow Lineker to also appear on BT Sport from next season. According to industry sources, the telecoms giant is desperate for a big name to front its first season of exclusive Champions League football.

12.41pm GMT

Our news hound Ed Aarons has some more Crystal Palace news …

Crystal Palace could complete the signing of Pape Souaré from Lille in the next 48 hours having agreed personal terms with the Senegal left-back on a contract until 2018. A bid of around £3.5m was accepted by the French club last week and a delegation from Palace is on their way to Equatorial Guinea to conduct a medical. Senegal face Algeria tonight in their final Group C match at the Africa Cup of Nations.

12.35pm GMT

It would not be a transfer window without a mention of Yevhen Konoplyanka. Perpetually linked with Liverrpool, it appears he is on his way to Roma. “Dnipro and Roma are in talks about the transfer of Konoplyanka,” the Dnipro director, Andriy Stenstenko told fcdnipro.com. “The clubs have almost reached an agreement and the player is thinking about the option of moving clubs. The club is ready for this have already identified a replacement winger.”

12.31pm GMT

Important not to forget about the Allsvenskan too, and Lars Palm has sent us this:

Hello Alan,

A few minutes ago Malmö FF announced the signing of Yoshimar Yotún, a 24 year old left back with 34 caps for Peru

12.26pm GMT

The biggest news of the day so far as Xherdan Shaqiri issues a come and get me plea!

xherdan (Me) is single!thank you! XS

12.22pm GMT

Some A-League news via an email from Jake Bergquist:

Hi Alan,

Not sure if you put up a fix for your aussie readers in transfer news but the word on the street down under is that Michael Eagar (South Melbourne Captain and CB, back-to-back VPL winner) has been offered contracts by both Sydney based franchises and is leaning toward the glamour of Sydney FC. Will be good to see someone make that step and he is a class player!

12.21pm GMT

Yesterday they confirmed John Carver’s appointment as manager for the rest of the season and now Newcastle United are being linked with Racing Santander’s 18-year-old attacker David Concha, AS reports. Concha would sign a five-year contract and be immediately loaned back to Racing.

12.03pm GMT

Another farcical situation developing at Blackpool. Local media are reporting that they want to terminate the loan of Joe Lewis because they might have to pay Cardiff a fee after a set amount of appearances.

The goalkeeper has been one of few bright lights at Bloomfield Road so far this season but now they want to send him back to Wales. He was dropped for what the Tangerines’ manager, Lee Clark, termed “tactical reasons” in that incredible 7-2 defeat at Watford at Saturday, where they led 2-0 at half-time.

11.59am GMT

Having ascended the Championship table since his arrival to now reside in the top half, Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has told the club’s official website that he hopes to make a few signings between now and Monday.

We’re hoping to get a couple of bodies in this week. Maybe another midfielder and another centre-back in an ideal world might help give us that extra competition in those positions, but it’s got to be the right ones. But if I don’t get them I’m not going to be too worried or concerned.

11.54am GMT

Crystal Palace update from our man Ed Aarons

#cpfc asked to be kept informed over Nantes winger Serge #Gakpe but only want him in summer when contract expires. Nantes want to sell now

Torino are only club to have made a bid for Gakpe so far but Genoa also interested

11.54am GMT

So much for Chelsea trying to sign Raheem Sterling. Here’s José Mourinho on the Liverpool and England attacker’s performance in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final:

He scored a fantastic goal but I didn’t see too much more than that. I think Chelsea played very well defensively. In that action [of scoring] he was fantastic and we made a couple of mistakes the way we approached that situation.

11.48am GMT

Manchester United will attempt to sell Nani in the summer but his £100,000-a-week pay packet may see them struggle to offload the Portugal winger, according to the Manchester Evening News. One hundred grand a week! A hundred thousand every seven days! World’s gone mad.

He still has three and a bit years remaining on that lucrative contract but Louis van Gaal does not rate him highly and will be surplus to requirements when he comes traipsing back from his loan spell at Sporting Lisbon.

11.34am GMT

Some news from the Football League. Portsmouth striker Ricky Holmes is expected to make his loan move at Northampton permanent later today; Cardiff’s Russell Slade is eager to bring in Robert Huth; and Oxford United are waiting to hear back from Tyrone Barnett after they submitted a “substantial” bid for the Peterborough striker, who scored six times in 12 game when on loan at the Kassam Stadium earlier in the season.

11.28am GMT

Not transfer news but a great story nonetheless: meet Lutz Pfannenstiel, the journeyman who has played on six continents and for 25 clubs.

From Malaysia and South Africa to Namibia and Norway via Brazil and Armenia, Pfannenstiel is the only person to have played professionally in every Fifa confederation. It is a career that spanned 21 years, 25 clubs and six continents and included stealing a penguin in New Zealand to chasing down burglars and living in an igloo.

11.20am GMT

An email from Raydeen Ramjee:

Hi Alan

Arsenal have signed Bielik and Paulista looks set to join.

11.13am GMT

Better late than never, here is today’s rumour mill!

11.05am GMT

Some Chelsea news but it’s not about Juan Cuadrado’s potential move from Fiorentina. It’s about André Schürrle’s transfer to Wolfsburg. It will happen if they pay around£22m and the World Cup winner is keen on moving back to Germany but no official bid has been made yet. Chelsea remain tight-lipped.

10.59am GMT

West Ham’s hopes of bringing Darren Fletcher in on a free from Manchester United may face a complication with news that West Bromwich Albion are also keen on the Scottish midfielder. Tony Pulis wants to sign four players according to the Birmingham Mail, including the completion of that McManaman deal we mentioned earlier.

10.54am GMT

Another email from Robbie Borowczyk, referring to the above photo:

Judging by his shocked expression Gabriel has just found out who the other members of Arsenal’s terror inspiring defensive squad are. You can see the terror in his eyes already.

10.48am GMT

Steve McClaren’s Derby have had loan approaches for QPR’s Matt Phillips and/or Junior Hoilett turned down according to local radio reports in the east midlands.

10.46am GMT

Tenuous link to transfer news seeing as Wilfried Bony has not made his debut for Manchester City yet … Sky are reporting that City will have a plane waiting in Equatorial Guinea to whisk both Bony and Yaya Touré back if Ivory Coast are knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations tomorrow. They would then be available for Saturday evening’s crucial trip to Stamford Bridge.

10.40am GMT

West Bromwich Albion’s move for Callum McManaman is nearing completion. He is likely to have a medical later today and Wigan, who are struggling to stay afloat in the Championship, will receive £5m in return.

10.32am GMT

More on Adnan Januzaj from our Manchester correspondent Jamie Jackson right here.

10.25am GMT

This is a bit easier to believe. Southampton’s Ronald Koeman is interested in bringing Feyenoord’s captain Jordy Clasie to St Mary’s. The 23-year-old central player was very upset – indeed the Daily Mirror are reporting he was ‘heartbroken’ – when Koeman left Feyenoord in the summer, meaning the two being re-united is quite a realistic possibility. Would it also pave the way for Morgan Schneiderlin to depart to the ‘big club’ he craves to play for?

10.17am GMT

Unrealistic rumour of the day or a facht? The Press & Journal are reporting that Roma and Rafa Benítez’s Napoli are fighting it out to lure Aberdeen’s Ryan Jack to Serie A. The 22-year-old midfielder has 18 months left on his contract with the Scottish Premier League side.

10.11am GMT

Adnan Januzaj, last season’s big hope at Manchester United, cannot seem to work his way into Louis van Gaal’s plans, though he did crop up for his first start since November in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Cambridge in the FA Cup.

His agent, Dirk de Vriese, has told Foot Mercato that PSG wanted to bring the Belgium international in on loan but Van Gaal jumped in the way, and blocked him from heading out the Carrington door.

10.06am GMT

There is plenty of disappointment below the line with this window so far and the general lack of anything happening.

Will the dawdling of clubs who certainly could do with strengthening their ranks mean a late flurry of action next Monday?

If you’re a selling club you wait for Deadline Day as the buying club will panic and throw extra millions at a deal to get it done. The rest of January is just foreplay. Teasing.

Is anyone else a bit disappointed by the lack of transfer activity of Premier League clubs in this window so far?

Has anyone actually signed anyone? This whole transfer window has been Mutch Adu Abou Naughton.

10.00am GMT

A dosage of Brazilian name etiquette via email from Charles Antaki:

Good that Gabriel Paulista is getting signed. The photos we’ve seen of him are promisingly daunting. The one good thing about the British media’s insistence on calling him Paulista is that we’ll be spared “Gunners Saved by the Angel Gabriel” headlines – against some stiff competition he’ll be the least angelic-looking footballer in the Premiership.

9.53am GMT

Serious news coming from Fifpro this morning, as talks at trying to reform the transfer system have stalled at the first hurdle after clubs and league across Europe refused to accept proposals to protect unpaid players.

“These reforms would make the contract of a professional player a two-way street,” the Fifpro secretary general, Theo van Seggelen, said in a statement this morning.

9.35am GMT

An email from Drew Gough

Good morning Alan,

Quick question(s) for you: with the Euro in tatters and the Queen’s Ol’ Pound being relatively strong, does it even make sense for English clubs to buy players from English clubs? Isn’t a bit of cross-Channel shopping more reasonable, like nipping off to Germany to stock up on bourbon instead of buying it from Sainsbury’s? Please advise.

9.30am GMT

A promising start. One question can already be answered courtesy of Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva.

He has told the Liverpool Echo he is unsure of his long-term future and whether it lies at Anfield or not, but will continue to give his all:

It is normal when you are out of the team and have been at a club for a long time. There are always rumours in the transfer window and it will be like that until February 2nd.

I just have to focus on what I can control at the moment and see what happens. I would be lying if I said I never thought about something new but I can’t tell you what is going to happen because it is football and we really don’t know. I just focus on today and leave the future to take care of itself.

9.22am GMT

Good morning! So what does Tuesday have in store? Will we see one of the big hitters complete an actual transfer? Will we see money change hands? Will a defender we have forgotten about commit his future to a club languishing in mid-table? Who will be the next to say he is unsure about his long-term future? Who will manufacture a loan deal out of a club where they are no longer wanted?

So many questions, hopefully at least some answers over the next eight hours.

9.18am GMT

Alan will be here shortly, but while you wait here is Dominic Fifield on Arsenal-bound Gabriel Paulista:

Gabriel was undergoing medical tests at the club’s London Colney training complex on Monday afternoon with Arsenal hopeful the centre-half will be available for Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium. The 24-year-old has not been capped by Brazil at any level, meaning he did not qualify for a work permit to play in this country, but Arsenal successfully appealed on his behalf, arguing he was of sufficiently high calibre and would “contribute significantly to the development of the game” in England.

Continue reading…



Transfer news: Manchester United block Januzaj loan, Gabriel to Arsenal – live!

12.47pm GMT

Sean St Ledger is nearing a move to DC United. The MLS club have confirmed he was part of their pre-season roster squad. He was most recently at Ipswich as back-up for Mick McCarthy’s high-flying Championship side.

12.43pm GMT

A potential loan move away from the pitch! Owen Gibson is reporting that BT are looking to bring Gary Lineker on board to host their Champions League coverage next year.

The Match of the Day anchor is contracted exclusively to the BBC until 2016 but it is understood that talks are ongoing about a deal that would allow Lineker to also appear on BT Sport from next season. According to industry sources, the telecoms giant is desperate for a big name to front its first season of exclusive Champions League football.

12.41pm GMT

Our news hound Ed Aarons has some more Crystal Palace news …

Crystal Palace could complete the signing of Pape Souaré from Lille in the next 48 hours having agreed personal terms with the Senegal left-back on a contract until 2018. A bid of around £3.5m was accepted by the French club last week and a delegation from Palace is on their way to Equatorial Guinea to conduct a medical. Senegal face Algeria tonight in their final Group C match at the Africa Cup of Nations.

12.35pm GMT

It would not be a transfer window without a mention of Yevhen Konoplyanka. Perpetually linked with Liverrpool, it appears he is on his way to Roma. “Dnipro and Roma are in talks about the transfer of Konoplyanka,” the Dnipro director, Andriy Stenstenko told fcdnipro.com. “The clubs have almost reached an agreement and the player is thinking about the option of moving clubs. The club is ready for this have already identified a replacement winger.”

12.31pm GMT

Important not to forget about the Allsvenskan too, and Lars Palm has sent us this:

Hello Alan,

A few minutes ago Malmö FF announced the signing of Yoshimar Yotún, a 24 year old left back with 34 caps for Peru

12.26pm GMT

The biggest news of the day so far as Xherdan Shaqiri issues a come and get me plea!

xherdan (Me) is single!thank you! XS

12.22pm GMT

Some A-League news via an email from Jake Bergquist:

Hi Alan,

Not sure if you put up a fix for your aussie readers in transfer news but the word on the street down under is that Michael Eagar (South Melbourne Captain and CB, back-to-back VPL winner) has been offered contracts by both Sydney based franchises and is leaning toward the glamour of Sydney FC. Will be good to see someone make that step and he is a class player!

12.21pm GMT

Yesterday they confirmed John Carver’s appointment as manager for the rest of the season and now Newcastle United are being linked with Racing Santander’s 18-year-old attacker David Concha, AS reports. Concha would sign a five-year contract and be immediately loaned back to Racing.

12.03pm GMT

Another farcical situation developing at Blackpool. Local media are reporting that they want to terminate the loan of Joe Lewis because they might have to pay Cardiff a fee after a set amount of appearances.

The goalkeeper has been one of few bright lights at Bloomfield Road so far this season but now they want to send him back to Wales. He was dropped for what the Tangerines’ manager, Lee Clark, termed “tactical reasons” in that incredible 7-2 defeat at Watford at Saturday, where they led 2-0 at half-time.

11.59am GMT

Having ascended the Championship table since his arrival to now reside in the top half, Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has told the club’s official website that he hopes to make a few signings between now and Monday.

We’re hoping to get a couple of bodies in this week. Maybe another midfielder and another centre-back in an ideal world might help give us that extra competition in those positions, but it’s got to be the right ones. But if I don’t get them I’m not going to be too worried or concerned.

11.54am GMT

Crystal Palace update from our man Ed Aarons

#cpfc asked to be kept informed over Nantes winger Serge #Gakpe but only want him in summer when contract expires. Nantes want to sell now

Torino are only club to have made a bid for Gakpe so far but Genoa also interested

11.54am GMT

So much for Chelsea trying to sign Raheem Sterling. Here’s José Mourinho on the Liverpool and England attacker’s performance in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final:

He scored a fantastic goal but I didn’t see too much more than that. I think Chelsea played very well defensively. In that action [of scoring] he was fantastic and we made a couple of mistakes the way we approached that situation.

11.48am GMT

Manchester United will attempt to sell Nani in the summer but his £100,000-a-week pay packet may see them struggle to offload the Portugal winger, according to the Manchester Evening News. One hundred grand a week! A hundred thousand every seven days! World’s gone mad.

He still has three and a bit years remaining on that lucrative contract but Louis van Gaal does not rate him highly and will be surplus to requirements when he comes traipsing back from his loan spell at Sporting Lisbon.

11.34am GMT

Some news from the Football League. Portsmouth striker Ricky Holmes is expected to make his loan move at Northampton permanent later today; Cardiff’s Russell Slade is eager to bring in Robert Huth; and Oxford United are waiting to hear back from Tyrone Barnett after they submitted a “substantial” bid for the Peterborough striker, who scored six times in 12 game when on loan at the Kassam Stadium earlier in the season.

11.28am GMT

Not transfer news but a great story nonetheless: meet Lutz Pfannenstiel, the journeyman who has played on six continents and for 25 clubs.

From Malaysia and South Africa to Namibia and Norway via Brazil and Armenia, Pfannenstiel is the only person to have played professionally in every Fifa confederation. It is a career that spanned 21 years, 25 clubs and six continents and included stealing a penguin in New Zealand to chasing down burglars and living in an igloo.

11.20am GMT

An email from Raydeen Ramjee:

Hi Alan

Arsenal have signed Bielik and Paulista looks set to join.

11.13am GMT

Better late than never, here is today’s rumour mill!

11.05am GMT

Some Chelsea news but it’s not about Juan Cuadrado’s potential move from Fiorentina. It’s about André Schürrle’s transfer to Wolfsburg. It will happen if they pay around£22m and the World Cup winner is keen on moving back to Germany but no official bid has been made yet. Chelsea remain tight-lipped.

10.59am GMT

West Ham’s hopes of bringing Darren Fletcher in on a free from Manchester United may face a complication with news that West Bromwich Albion are also keen on the Scottish midfielder. Tony Pulis wants to sign four players according to the Birmingham Mail, including the completion of that McManaman deal we mentioned earlier.

10.54am GMT

Another email from Robbie Borowczyk, referring to the above photo:

Judging by his shocked expression Gabriel has just found out who the other members of Arsenal’s terror inspiring defensive squad are. You can see the terror in his eyes already.

10.48am GMT

Steve McClaren’s Derby have had loan approaches for QPR’s Matt Phillips and/or Junior Hoilett turned down according to local radio reports in the east midlands.

10.46am GMT

Tenuous link to transfer news seeing as Wilfried Bony has not made his debut for Manchester City yet … Sky are reporting that City will have a plane waiting in Equatorial Guinea to whisk both Bony and Yaya Touré back if Ivory Coast are knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations tomorrow. They would then be available for Saturday evening’s crucial trip to Stamford Bridge.

10.40am GMT

West Bromwich Albion’s move for Callum McManaman is nearing completion. He is likely to have a medical later today and Wigan, who are struggling to stay afloat in the Championship, will receive £5m in return.

10.32am GMT

More on Adnan Januzaj from our Manchester correspondent Jamie Jackson right here.

10.25am GMT

This is a bit easier to believe. Southampton’s Ronald Koeman is interested in bringing Feyenoord’s captain Jordy Clasie to St Mary’s. The 23-year-old central player was very upset – indeed the Daily Mirror are reporting he was ‘heartbroken’ – when Koeman left Feyenoord in the summer, meaning the two being re-united is quite a realistic possibility. Would it also pave the way for Morgan Schneiderlin to depart to the ‘big club’ he craves to play for?

10.17am GMT

Unrealistic rumour of the day or a facht? The Press & Journal are reporting that Roma and Rafa Benítez’s Napoli are fighting it out to lure Aberdeen’s Ryan Jack to Serie A. The 22-year-old midfielder has 18 months left on his contract with the Scottish Premier League side.

10.11am GMT

Adnan Januzaj, last season’s big hope at Manchester United, cannot seem to work his way into Louis van Gaal’s plans, though he did crop up for his first start since November in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Cambridge in the FA Cup.

His agent, Dirk de Vriese, has told Foot Mercato that PSG wanted to bring the Belgium international in on loan but Van Gaal jumped in the way, and blocked him from heading out the Carrington door.

10.06am GMT

There is plenty of disappointment below the line with this window so far and the general lack of anything happening.

Will the dawdling of clubs who certainly could do with strengthening their ranks mean a late flurry of action next Monday?

If you’re a selling club you wait for Deadline Day as the buying club will panic and throw extra millions at a deal to get it done. The rest of January is just foreplay. Teasing.

Is anyone else a bit disappointed by the lack of transfer activity of Premier League clubs in this window so far?

Has anyone actually signed anyone? This whole transfer window has been Mutch Adu Abou Naughton.

10.00am GMT

A dosage of Brazilian name etiquette via email from Charles Antaki:

Good that Gabriel Paulista is getting signed. The photos we’ve seen of him are promisingly daunting. The one good thing about the British media’s insistence on calling him Paulista is that we’ll be spared “Gunners Saved by the Angel Gabriel” headlines – against some stiff competition he’ll be the least angelic-looking footballer in the Premiership.

9.53am GMT

Serious news coming from Fifpro this morning, as talks at trying to reform the transfer system have stalled at the first hurdle after clubs and league across Europe refused to accept proposals to protect unpaid players.

“These reforms would make the contract of a professional player a two-way street,” the Fifpro secretary general, Theo van Seggelen, said in a statement this morning.

9.35am GMT

An email from Drew Gough

Good morning Alan,

Quick question(s) for you: with the Euro in tatters and the Queen’s Ol’ Pound being relatively strong, does it even make sense for English clubs to buy players from English clubs? Isn’t a bit of cross-Channel shopping more reasonable, like nipping off to Germany to stock up on bourbon instead of buying it from Sainsbury’s? Please advise.

9.30am GMT

A promising start. One question can already be answered courtesy of Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva.

He has told the Liverpool Echo he is unsure of his long-term future and whether it lies at Anfield or not, but will continue to give his all:

It is normal when you are out of the team and have been at a club for a long time. There are always rumours in the transfer window and it will be like that until February 2nd.

I just have to focus on what I can control at the moment and see what happens. I would be lying if I said I never thought about something new but I can’t tell you what is going to happen because it is football and we really don’t know. I just focus on today and leave the future to take care of itself.

9.22am GMT

Good morning! So what does Tuesday have in store? Will we see one of the big hitters complete an actual transfer? Will we see money change hands? Will a defender we have forgotten about commit his future to a club languishing in mid-table? Who will be the next to say he is unsure about his long-term future? Who will manufacture a loan deal out of a club where they are no longer wanted?

So many questions, hopefully at least some answers over the next eight hours.

9.18am GMT

Alan will be here shortly, but while you wait here is Dominic Fifield on Arsenal-bound Gabriel Paulista:

Gabriel was undergoing medical tests at the club’s London Colney training complex on Monday afternoon with Arsenal hopeful the centre-half will be available for Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium. The 24-year-old has not been capped by Brazil at any level, meaning he did not qualify for a work permit to play in this country, but Arsenal successfully appealed on his behalf, arguing he was of sufficiently high calibre and would “contribute significantly to the development of the game” in England.

Continue reading…



Transfer news: Manchester United block Januzaj loan, Gabriel to Arsenal – live!

12.47pm GMT

Sean St Ledger is nearing a move to DC United. The MLS club have confirmed he was part of their pre-season roster squad. He was most recently at Ipswich as back-up for Mick McCarthy’s high-flying Championship side.

12.43pm GMT

A potential loan move away from the pitch! Owen Gibson is reporting that BT are looking to bring Gary Lineker on board to host their Champions League coverage next year.

The Match of the Day anchor is contracted exclusively to the BBC until 2016 but it is understood that talks are ongoing about a deal that would allow Lineker to also appear on BT Sport from next season. According to industry sources, the telecoms giant is desperate for a big name to front its first season of exclusive Champions League football.

12.41pm GMT

Our news hound Ed Aarons has some more Crystal Palace news …

Crystal Palace could complete the signing of Pape Souaré from Lille in the next 48 hours having agreed personal terms with the Senegal left-back on a contract until 2018. A bid of around £3.5m was accepted by the French club last week and a delegation from Palace is on their way to Equatorial Guinea to conduct a medical. Senegal face Algeria tonight in their final Group C match at the Africa Cup of Nations.

12.35pm GMT

It would not be a transfer window without a mention of Yevhen Konoplyanka. Perpetually linked with Liverrpool, it appears he is on his way to Roma. “Dnipro and Roma are in talks about the transfer of Konoplyanka,” the Dnipro director, Andriy Stenstenko told fcdnipro.com. “The clubs have almost reached an agreement and the player is thinking about the option of moving clubs. The club is ready for this have already identified a replacement winger.”

12.31pm GMT

Important not to forget about the Allsvenskan too, and Lars Palm has sent us this:

Hello Alan,

A few minutes ago Malmö FF announced the signing of Yoshimar Yotún, a 24 year old left back with 34 caps for Peru

12.26pm GMT

The biggest news of the day so far as Xherdan Shaqiri issues a come and get me plea!

xherdan (Me) is single!thank you! XS

12.22pm GMT

Some A-League news via an email from Jake Bergquist:

Hi Alan,

Not sure if you put up a fix for your aussie readers in transfer news but the word on the street down under is that Michael Eagar (South Melbourne Captain and CB, back-to-back VPL winner) has been offered contracts by both Sydney based franchises and is leaning toward the glamour of Sydney FC. Will be good to see someone make that step and he is a class player!

12.21pm GMT

Yesterday they confirmed John Carver’s appointment as manager for the rest of the season and now Newcastle United are being linked with Racing Santander’s 18-year-old attacker David Concha, AS reports. Concha would sign a five-year contract and be immediately loaned back to Racing.

12.03pm GMT

Another farcical situation developing at Blackpool. Local media are reporting that they want to terminate the loan of Joe Lewis because they might have to pay Cardiff a fee after a set amount of appearances.

The goalkeeper has been one of few bright lights at Bloomfield Road so far this season but now they want to send him back to Wales. He was dropped for what the Tangerines’ manager, Lee Clark, termed “tactical reasons” in that incredible 7-2 defeat at Watford at Saturday, where they led 2-0 at half-time.

11.59am GMT

Having ascended the Championship table since his arrival to now reside in the top half, Birmingham City manager Gary Rowett has told the club’s official website that he hopes to make a few signings between now and Monday.

We’re hoping to get a couple of bodies in this week. Maybe another midfielder and another centre-back in an ideal world might help give us that extra competition in those positions, but it’s got to be the right ones. But if I don’t get them I’m not going to be too worried or concerned.

11.54am GMT

Crystal Palace update from our man Ed Aarons

#cpfc asked to be kept informed over Nantes winger Serge #Gakpe but only want him in summer when contract expires. Nantes want to sell now

Torino are only club to have made a bid for Gakpe so far but Genoa also interested

11.54am GMT

So much for Chelsea trying to sign Raheem Sterling. Here’s José Mourinho on the Liverpool and England attacker’s performance in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final:

He scored a fantastic goal but I didn’t see too much more than that. I think Chelsea played very well defensively. In that action [of scoring] he was fantastic and we made a couple of mistakes the way we approached that situation.

11.48am GMT

Manchester United will attempt to sell Nani in the summer but his £100,000-a-week pay packet may see them struggle to offload the Portugal winger, according to the Manchester Evening News. One hundred grand a week! A hundred thousand every seven days! World’s gone mad.

He still has three and a bit years remaining on that lucrative contract but Louis van Gaal does not rate him highly and will be surplus to requirements when he comes traipsing back from his loan spell at Sporting Lisbon.

11.34am GMT

Some news from the Football League. Portsmouth striker Ricky Holmes is expected to make his loan move at Northampton permanent later today; Cardiff’s Russell Slade is eager to bring in Robert Huth; and Oxford United are waiting to hear back from Tyrone Barnett after they submitted a “substantial” bid for the Peterborough striker, who scored six times in 12 game when on loan at the Kassam Stadium earlier in the season.

11.28am GMT

Not transfer news but a great story nonetheless: meet Lutz Pfannenstiel, the journeyman who has played on six continents and for 25 clubs.

From Malaysia and South Africa to Namibia and Norway via Brazil and Armenia, Pfannenstiel is the only person to have played professionally in every Fifa confederation. It is a career that spanned 21 years, 25 clubs and six continents and included stealing a penguin in New Zealand to chasing down burglars and living in an igloo.

11.20am GMT

An email from Raydeen Ramjee:

Hi Alan

Arsenal have signed Bielik and Paulista looks set to join.

11.13am GMT

Better late than never, here is today’s rumour mill!

11.05am GMT

Some Chelsea news but it’s not about Juan Cuadrado’s potential move from Fiorentina. It’s about André Schürrle’s transfer to Wolfsburg. It will happen if they pay around£22m and the World Cup winner is keen on moving back to Germany but no official bid has been made yet. Chelsea remain tight-lipped.

10.59am GMT

West Ham’s hopes of bringing Darren Fletcher in on a free from Manchester United may face a complication with news that West Bromwich Albion are also keen on the Scottish midfielder. Tony Pulis wants to sign four players according to the Birmingham Mail, including the completion of that McManaman deal we mentioned earlier.

10.54am GMT

Another email from Robbie Borowczyk, referring to the above photo:

Judging by his shocked expression Gabriel has just found out who the other members of Arsenal’s terror inspiring defensive squad are. You can see the terror in his eyes already.

10.48am GMT

Steve McClaren’s Derby have had loan approaches for QPR’s Matt Phillips and/or Junior Hoilett turned down according to local radio reports in the east midlands.

10.46am GMT

Tenuous link to transfer news seeing as Wilfried Bony has not made his debut for Manchester City yet … Sky are reporting that City will have a plane waiting in Equatorial Guinea to whisk both Bony and Yaya Touré back if Ivory Coast are knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations tomorrow. They would then be available for Saturday evening’s crucial trip to Stamford Bridge.

10.40am GMT

West Bromwich Albion’s move for Callum McManaman is nearing completion. He is likely to have a medical later today and Wigan, who are struggling to stay afloat in the Championship, will receive £5m in return.

10.32am GMT

More on Adnan Januzaj from our Manchester correspondent Jamie Jackson right here.

10.25am GMT

This is a bit easier to believe. Southampton’s Ronald Koeman is interested in bringing Feyenoord’s captain Jordy Clasie to St Mary’s. The 23-year-old central player was very upset – indeed the Daily Mirror are reporting he was ‘heartbroken’ – when Koeman left Feyenoord in the summer, meaning the two being re-united is quite a realistic possibility. Would it also pave the way for Morgan Schneiderlin to depart to the ‘big club’ he craves to play for?

10.17am GMT

Unrealistic rumour of the day or a facht? The Press & Journal are reporting that Roma and Rafa Benítez’s Napoli are fighting it out to lure Aberdeen’s Ryan Jack to Serie A. The 22-year-old midfielder has 18 months left on his contract with the Scottish Premier League side.

10.11am GMT

Adnan Januzaj, last season’s big hope at Manchester United, cannot seem to work his way into Louis van Gaal’s plans, though he did crop up for his first start since November in Friday’s 0-0 draw at Cambridge in the FA Cup.

His agent, Dirk de Vriese, has told Foot Mercato that PSG wanted to bring the Belgium international in on loan but Van Gaal jumped in the way, and blocked him from heading out the Carrington door.

10.06am GMT

There is plenty of disappointment below the line with this window so far and the general lack of anything happening.

Will the dawdling of clubs who certainly could do with strengthening their ranks mean a late flurry of action next Monday?

If you’re a selling club you wait for Deadline Day as the buying club will panic and throw extra millions at a deal to get it done. The rest of January is just foreplay. Teasing.

Is anyone else a bit disappointed by the lack of transfer activity of Premier League clubs in this window so far?

Has anyone actually signed anyone? This whole transfer window has been Mutch Adu Abou Naughton.

10.00am GMT

A dosage of Brazilian name etiquette via email from Charles Antaki:

Good that Gabriel Paulista is getting signed. The photos we’ve seen of him are promisingly daunting. The one good thing about the British media’s insistence on calling him Paulista is that we’ll be spared “Gunners Saved by the Angel Gabriel” headlines – against some stiff competition he’ll be the least angelic-looking footballer in the Premiership.

9.53am GMT

Serious news coming from Fifpro this morning, as talks at trying to reform the transfer system have stalled at the first hurdle after clubs and league across Europe refused to accept proposals to protect unpaid players.

“These reforms would make the contract of a professional player a two-way street,” the Fifpro secretary general, Theo van Seggelen, said in a statement this morning.

9.35am GMT

An email from Drew Gough

Good morning Alan,

Quick question(s) for you: with the Euro in tatters and the Queen’s Ol’ Pound being relatively strong, does it even make sense for English clubs to buy players from English clubs? Isn’t a bit of cross-Channel shopping more reasonable, like nipping off to Germany to stock up on bourbon instead of buying it from Sainsbury’s? Please advise.

9.30am GMT

A promising start. One question can already be answered courtesy of Liverpool’s Brazilian midfielder Lucas Leiva.

He has told the Liverpool Echo he is unsure of his long-term future and whether it lies at Anfield or not, but will continue to give his all:

It is normal when you are out of the team and have been at a club for a long time. There are always rumours in the transfer window and it will be like that until February 2nd.

I just have to focus on what I can control at the moment and see what happens. I would be lying if I said I never thought about something new but I can’t tell you what is going to happen because it is football and we really don’t know. I just focus on today and leave the future to take care of itself.

9.22am GMT

Good morning! So what does Tuesday have in store? Will we see one of the big hitters complete an actual transfer? Will we see money change hands? Will a defender we have forgotten about commit his future to a club languishing in mid-table? Who will be the next to say he is unsure about his long-term future? Who will manufacture a loan deal out of a club where they are no longer wanted?

So many questions, hopefully at least some answers over the next eight hours.

9.18am GMT

Alan will be here shortly, but while you wait here is Dominic Fifield on Arsenal-bound Gabriel Paulista:

Gabriel was undergoing medical tests at the club’s London Colney training complex on Monday afternoon with Arsenal hopeful the centre-half will be available for Sunday’s visit of Aston Villa to the Emirates Stadium. The 24-year-old has not been capped by Brazil at any level, meaning he did not qualify for a work permit to play in this country, but Arsenal successfully appealed on his behalf, arguing he was of sufficiently high calibre and would “contribute significantly to the development of the game” in England.

Continue reading…



BT Sport hoping to sign Gary Lineker to front Champions League coverage

• Deal would enable former striker to continue BBC role
• BT won rights from Sky Sports and ITV in £897m deal
• Lineker has presented Match of the Day since 1999

BT Sport has stepped up attempts to sign Gary Lineker to front its live Champions League coverage next season on a deal that would enable him to also continue presenting Match of the Day for the BBC.

The Match of the Day anchor is contracted exclusively to the BBC until 2016 but it is understood that talks are ongoing about a deal that would allow Lineker to also appear on BT Sport from next season. According to industry sources, the telecoms giant is desperate for a big name to front its first season of exclusive Champions League football. It won the rights to both the Champions League and the Europa League from Sky Sports and ITV in a £897m three-year deal beginning next season.

Related: Adrian Chiles replaced as ITV’s main football presenter by Mark Pougatch

Continue reading…

Sharapova to play Makarova in Australian Open semifinals (Yahoo Sports)

Ekaterina Makarova of Russia celebrates after defeating Simona Halep of Romania in their quarterfinal match at the Australian Open tennis championship in Melbourne, Australia, Tuesday, Jan. 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

Maria Sharapova moved closer to another Australian Open title, set to face a fellow Russian in the semifinals who has never beaten her. Sharapova made all the big points look easy Tuesday in defeating 20-year-old Eugenie Bouchard 6-3, 6-2 – her fourth consecutive win over the Canadian – and advance to a semifinal against Ekaterina Makarova, who earlier beat third-seeded Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0. ”I felt pretty good from the start, didn’t feel I had too many letdowns,” Sharapova said, adding that her close call in the second round – facing two match points against a qualifier – sharpened her focus for the rest of the tournament. The last time Sharapova and Bouchard met – in the semifinals at the French Open last year – Bouchard won the first set before Sharapova came back to take the next two.

Three Solutions To Fix Man Utd

Manchester United have not yet managed a defining performance against any of the other top teams in the league and while talk of 'crisis' is a little early, there are things that need to be fixed, and quickly. Musa Okwonga »

Kobe Bryant to have shoulder surgery, likely out for season (Yahoo Sports)

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 21: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers handles the ball against the New Orleans Pelicans during the game on January 21, 2015 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images)

Kobe Bryant will have surgery Wednesday on his torn right rotator cuff, likely ending his 19th season with the Los Angeles Lakers. The star guard and the Lakers decided Monday on surgery, which typically requires several months of rehabilitation. The Lakers will announce a timetable for Bryant’s recovery after surgery, but coach Byron Scott anticipates losing the third-leading scorer in NBA history for the rest of the year. His famously resilient body has finally worn down from the accumulated grind of nearly two decades and several lengthy postseasons with the Lakers, including five NBA title runs.

Australian Open: Eugenie Bouchard v Maria Sharapova – live!

12.41pm AEST

It sounds like a cliche

…but this match might be won on the serve. Sharapova has won 72% of her points on first serve so far in the tournament while Bouchard has won more break points than anyone else in the women’s draw. Can she make a dent this time? One thing is for sure, she can’t slacken off the way she did mid-way through the second set against Irina-Camelia Begu.

12.30pm AEST

Good afternoon all

And welcome to this Australian Open quarter final between Eugenie Bouchard and Maria Sharapova, coming to you a lot earlier than this live-blogger expected, I’ll be honest. That’s because Ekaterina Makarova just demolished 3rd-seed Simona Halep 6-4, 6-0 and will now play the winner of this Bouchard-Sharapova encounter in the semi.

12.28pm AEST

Russell Jackson is the man with to take you through today’s big women’s match in the women’s draw at Melbourne Park: second seed Maria Sharapova against seventh seed Eugenie Bouchard. Is there an upset on the cards? Would it really be an upset if Bouchard were to win? Can the Canadian go all the way and claim her first grand slam here? Those questions, and more, to be answered over the next couple of hours or so. But while we’re waiting for Rusty to take his seat, why not pass the time by catching up on a story that has somewhat passed under the radar – that of Madison Keys.

There’s a hint of Capriati in Keys; it’s in the singsong inflection of the voice, the “you knows” sprinkled liberally in the sentences, the big, toothy grin, the joyful exuberance.

But it’s likely this story will have a far happier ending. Because it has taken nearly six years for Keys to at last fashion her first big breakthrough on a big tennis stage. Surely she’s far better equipped to handle it.

Continue reading…



AP source: Yanks thinking of not making $6M payment to A-Rod (Yahoo Sports)

FILE - In this Sept. 14, 2013, file photo, New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez heads to the dugout during the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Boston Red Sox in a baseball game at Fenway Park in Boston. Rodriguez has accepted his season-long suspension from Major League Baseball, the longest penalty in the sport's history related to performance-enhancing drugs. Rodriguez withdrew his lawsuits against MLB, Commissioner Bud Selig and the players' association to overturn his season-long suspension on Friday, Feb. 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Winslow Townson, File)

The New York Yankees are thinking about not making a $6 million payment to Alex Rodriguez if he hits six home runs and ties Willie Mays at 660 for fourth place on the career list. Rodriguez signed a $275 million, 10-year contract with the team in December 2007 and a separate marketing agreement that called for $6 million payments for up to five milestone accomplishments designated by the Yankees. At the time of the marketing agreement, those accomplishments were contemplated to be tying the home run totals of Mays, Babe Ruth (714), Hank Aaron (755) and Barry Bonds, (762), and breaking Bonds’ major league record. New York’s thought process on the $6 million payment, first reported by the Daily News, was described to The Associated Press on Monday by a person familiar with the deal who spoke on condition of anonymity because no public statements were authorized.

Real Madrid say they comply fully with Fifa rules on under-age transfers

• Real respond to Fifa investigation into their under-age deals
• Emilio Butragueño denies club could face transfer ban like Barcelona

Real Madrid released a statement on Monday night saying they comply fully with Fifa’s rules on transfers involving under-age players.

The club also acknowledged that football’s governing body exerts rigid control over international transfers of minors and had opened an investigation into the deals involving under-age players.

Continue reading…