Striker Arthur Irawan is set to become the first Indonesian to play in La Liga after signing for Espanyol. The 18-year-old, who was born in Jakarta, had a brief spell last year with English amateur club Lytham Town before an unsuccessful trial with League One club Preston North End. But the Barcelona-based club, who are currently seventh in the league, have decided to sign the youngster for an undisclosed fee. Head coach Mauricio Pochettino believes Irawan has the potential to become a big talent at the Estadi Cornella-El Prat. According to the La Liga outfit's official website , Irawan was discovered by the club's extensive scouting network and they have high hopes the striker will develop into a very good player. "The latest acquisition is Arthur Irawan, a promising player from Indonesia. "Our challenge is to help him adapt to the style and rigours of European elite football," Espanyol said in a statement.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Europe's leading clubs want governing bodies FIFA and UEFA to stump up the cash for players' wages during international tournaments, according to Barcelona president Sandro Rosell. Rosell wants the top European domestic leagues cut to 16 teams and proposes the money-spinning UEFA Champions League should be expanded. And the Spaniard has warned UEFA that leading clubs may break away unless their demands are met. Speaking at a conference in Doha, he said clubs had opened discussions with the two bodies over the payment of players during the World Cup and European Championships. Income "The worst case scenario is that we will go away from UEFA." Sandro Rosell Quotes of the week Rosell added: "That could happen in the near future because we don't think it is fair that we pay the salaries and they use our players and get income using our players. "This is something that has to be treated very seriously." The Barca chief believes 20 teams in England's Premier League, along with Spain's La Liga and Italy's Serie A, is too many. Premier League teams have previously resisted attempts to cut numbers, but Rosell believes the lure of an enlarged Champions League could convince English clubs. He said: "The objective of reducing from 20 to 16 is to give more space to our players. "Once the dates are liberated, these dates are not for the national federations. They are for the clubs to organise friendly games or to increase the European competitions." Breakaway UEFA's agreement with the European Club Association, the organisation representing over 200 of the continent's biggest clubs, expires in 2014. Rosell warned clubs may decide to go alone if a new agreement cannot be reached. He said: "If this doesn't happen then the worst case scenario is that we will go away from UEFA."
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Barcelona midfielder Rafinha Alcantara has played down talk linking him with a move to Chelsea. The 18-year-old recently made his first-team debut for Barca and he is highly-regarded at Camp Nou. Chelsea have been credited with an interest in Alcantara after tracking him since last summer. Alcantara, who is the younger brother of Barca star Thiago, is ignoring talk linking him with the Blues and revealed he is close to signing a new deal at Barcelona. "Chelsea? I don't pay attention to these stories, really," said Alcantara. "My objective is to renew my contract with Barcelona soon. We're close to a deal."
Posted by Adam at 3:18 PM
Monday, November 14, 2011
Tottenham could be set to raid Barcelona for up to three of their defensive starlets. Spurs have already been linked with Martin Montoya and Marc Batra, but skysports.com understands they are also in the market for left-back Carles Planas. 20-year-old Planas is currently with Barca's B side and is a Spanish Under-21 international. The player is contracted to Barca until next summer, but they are yet to decide on his future. Sources believe they could allow him to leave with the option of a buy-back within two seasons. Planas' progress in recent years was hampered by injury but he is now fully fit and impressing for the second-string. Both Batra and Montoya have made their first-team debuts, but could also be available this summer and Spurs are monitoring the situations of all three players.
Sunday, November 13, 2011
Theo Walcott believes Barcelona was the perfect move for former Arsenal team-mate Cesc Fabregas. The ex-Gunners captain finally returned to the Catalan giants in the summer following a lengthy transfer wrangle between the two clubs. Despite the 24-year-old's exit from North London, Walcott has been in no doubt that Fabregas made the right move. Saturday could be the first time that the duo line up against each other since their time at Arsenal together when England face Spain at Wembley. "He was an absolutely fantastic player for Arsenal. Throughout the years he was with us he went up so many levels," the 22-year-old said. "Now he puts on a Barca shirt and it just seems to suit him. It's where he always wanted to be in the end. That's where he started and he's fitted into the team really well, he's scoring goals and enjoying himself. Dominant "It'll be nice to see him again and it will be weird playing against him for the first time. He's such a dominant player it'll be interesting to see how he fits in against us. I'm sure we can cope with him. "He's coming off the back of a draw which is rare for Barca, but he scored so he's flying with confidence. "The Spanish team have so many danger men you can't just focus on one though, you have to look after them all at the same time." Despite the 'fear factor' surrounding the world champions with the likes of Xavi, Andres Iniesta and David Villa in their side, Walcott insists the visitors should not underestimate Fabio Capello's men. "He puts on a Barca shirt and it just seems to suit him. It's where he always wanted to be in the end." Theo Walcott on Cesc Fabregas Quotes of the week "England are very strong through the middle, so hopefully they will find it tough," the former Southampton forward said. Great players "If they go wide we've got great full-backs, and I think if I went through the entire list of individuals for England we've got great players across the board. "So I'm hoping they're going to find it tough to get around us. "That's what we did with Arsenal against Barca, we frustrated them, played them at their own game, dropped off when we needed to. "It's also important when you lose the ball that you react and try to win it back in five seconds."
Saturday, November 12, 2011
Real Madrid maintained their position at the top of the table in the Primera Liga following a 7-1 annihilation of Osasuna at the Santiago Bernabeu. Click below for individual match stats: Real Madrid 7 Osasuna 1 Granada 0 Racing Santander 0 Real Zaragoza 2 Sporting Gijon 2 Espanyol 0 Villarreal 0 Rayo Vallecano 4 Real Sociedad 0 Athletic Bilbao 2 Barcelona 2 Getafe 3 Atletico Madrid 2 Jose Mourinho's side headed into the lunch-time kick-off with a 100 per cent record at home this season and were favourites to muster maximum points. And indeed Los Blancos did so, as they overcame a slightly slow start to virtually wrap up the win inside the first 45 minutes. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was officially presented with the European Golden Boot for his goalscoring exploits in the 2010-11 season on Friday, put Madrid into the lead midway through the first half when he headed home an Angel Di Maria cross from the right wing. Ibrahima Balde briefly restored parity for the visitors from Pamplona on 30 minutes when he slotted home from close range, but the Spanish giants scored two quickfire goals thereafter through Pepe and Gonzalo Higuain before the break. Osasuna defender Eneko Satrustegui was sent off nine minutes into the restart on his league debut following his challenge on Mesut Ozil inside the penalty area, and Ronaldo successfully converted the spot-kick. The Portugal international forward completed his hat-trick just four minutes later and substitute Karim Benzema wrapped up proceedings with goals on 63 and 81 minutes. The 7-1 win means that the nine-time European champions will head into the international break on top of the table in the Spanish first division with 28 points from 11 matches. Barcelona stay second behind Madrid but are now three points off the pace following their 2-2 draw with Athletic Bilbao in the Basque country. In a game that was played on a drenched pitch and amid a downpour, it was Athletic who took the lead after 20 minutes when Ander Herrera found the target. Four minutes later, though, Barca restored parity through Cesc Fabregas, who headed home an Eric Abidal cross. The Spanish champions thought that they had taken the lead on 54 minutes when Messi put the ball into the net but his effort was ruled out because of offside. Then with just 10 minutes remaining on the clock, Barca succumbed to a defensive mix-up as Abidal's attempted clearance went in off Gerard Pique. Athletic were looking to march on to an encouraging 2-1 victory over the Catalan giants at San Mames but Fernando Amorebieta was sent off on 90 minutes. Then moments later in injury time Lionel Messi found himself on the end of a loose ball inside the Athletic penalty area and slotted home with ease. Granada failed to build on their 2-1 away victory over Andalucian rivals Sevilla last week as they were held to a disappointing goalless draw by Racing Santander at home. Ariel Nahuelpan was sent off for the visitors on 87 minutes. Two other struggling sides Real Zaragoza and Sporting Gijon also played out a draw on Sunday to remain in or around the relegation zone. Zaragoza went ahead in front of their supporters on 28 minutes through an Alberto Botia own goal, but conceded the equaliser to David Barral just a couple of minutes later. Barral netted his second goal of the afternoon on 44 minutes to give Sporting the advantage at the break, but a late goal from Helder Postiga saw the hosts salvage a point, as the encounter at La Romareda ended in a 2-2 draw. Basque giants Real Sociedad suffered their sixth defeat in seven matches as they went down 4-0 to Rayo Vallecano at Las Vallecas. La Real went behind as early as the 12th minute when Piti successfully converted a penalty for the Madrid outfit and although they went into the half-time interval with the chance of a comeback, three goals in the second period from the hosts consigned them to more misery. Miguel Perez Cuesta scored Rayo's second goal on 49 minutes and added a further just after the hour mark. Then on 72 minutes Roberto Trashorras found the target to wrap up a comprehensive win for his team and see them move further away from the dropzone. Meanwhile, Villarreal continued to lag as they failed to score in Barcelona and had to settle for a goalless draw with Espanyol despite the home side playing the last 15 minutes with 10 men following the dismissal of Juan Forlin. In the late game on Sunday, 10-man Getafe registered a marvellous 3-2 victory over Atletico Madrid in the Madrid derby to give themselves hope of relegation survival. However, it was Atletico who broke the deadlock at the Coliseum Alfonso Perez on the half hour mark. Alberto Lopo brought down Diego inside the Getafe penalty area and was promptly sent off, with Radamel Falcao making no mistake from the spot. But 10 minutes later Abdelaziz Barrada restored parity and four minutes into the second half Getafe went ahead through Michel. In what was proving to be an entertaining affair, Alvaro Dominguez equalised for the visitors in the 80th minute, but three minutes later Getafe earned a spot-kick that was slotted home by Diego Castro.
Posted by Adam at 3:13 PM
Friday, November 11, 2011
Brazilian sensation Neymar has confirmed he shunned a move to Spain in order to stay with Santos. The 19-year-old, widely regarded as the best teenager in the world, had been expected to join Real Madrid next year after the Spanish giants looked to have beaten most of Europe's top clubs to his signature. Real thought they had a deal done and hoped Neymar would move to the Santiago Bernabeu at some point in 2012. But now Neymar has opted to pen a four-year deal with Santos and his agent says that he will not look to move until after the World Cup in 2014, which takes place in Brazil. Neymar revealed that both Real and Barcelona were contending for his signature. "There was interest from Spain, but I wanted to stay here because I am very happy," he said. Neymar explained at a news conference his decision to remain with Santos: "This was the important decision I have made in my life, and my parents helped me decide. "It is a way of thanking everyone here for all the love I have got, and I am happy to be here until 2014." Agent Wagner Ribeiro added to Lance. "Neymar is happy to be able to remain with Santos until at least 2014, after that he will decide where to go."