Football news

Barcelona’s Iniesta is fit for Clasico

Barcelona captain Andres Iniesta is available to play against Real Madrid in the first Clasico of the season on Saturday at the Nou Camp, coach Luis Enrique said.

The 32-year-old midfielder damaged knee ligaments last month and returned to training on Friday.

“Andres is waiting to be given the all clear by the doctors but this is just a formality. He is fit and he has been training with us,” Luis Enrique said.

“He is available for selection.”

The Spain international missed Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad, a result that left Bar-celona six points adrift of La Liga leaders Real Madrid.

Arsenal’s Walcott eyes caffeine boost

Arsenal forward Theo Walcott is eager to continue his rich vein of form by scoring 10 goals before Christmas, which he plans to celebrate by receiving a coffee machine as a gift from his wife.

The England forward scored in Sunday’s 3-1 Premier League victory over Bournemouth to take his tally up to nine goals in 15 appearances this season.

“I want to get 10 (goals) so I can get a coffee machine for Christmas from my wife. She said ‘if you get 10 goals before Christmas I’ll buy you this coffee machine’,” Walcott told British media.

“So I can’t wait for that and hopefully it will happen. Coming from the wing as well, I’m de-lighted with my goals so far.”

Italian businessman keen on Leeds United

Italian businessman Andrea Radrizzani has confirmed his interest in a 50 per cent share of Leeds with a view to buying the Championship club outright.

The co-founder of media rights group MP & Silva has been seen at Elland Road on numerous occasions this season.

“Massimo Cellino has 100 per cent now and if I do the deal, I will enter the club during this season with 50 per cent and have the option to buy him out completely next summer,” said Radrizzani.

“Leeds are exciting... a sleeping giant, probably the only big brand left in English football that could grow in terms of value.”

Hull City to open Snodgrass talks

Mike Phelan expects Hull City to start contract talks with in-form winger Robert Snodgrass soon.

The Scotland international, who has netted five times this term, revealed to local radio after Saturday’s 1-1 draw with West Brom that he had received no contact from the club about extending his current deal beyond the end of the season.

But Phelan said Hull would address the situation shortly.

“That will be taken care of in due course,” coach Phelan said.

“We will pay attention to that as he is an important footballer. We will be dealing with that pretty shortly.”

Confederations Cup useless says Grindel

German FA (DFB) president Reinhard Grindel has called for the Confederations Cup to be scrapped, telling German newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt he believes the competition has “outlived itself.”

Germany will be among eight nations participating in the 2017 tournament in Russia next June, and both coach Joachim Loew and general manager Oliver Bierhoff have hinted that they will not take their best players.

Grindel said: “It would be a good signal for the top clubs in Europe, who justly warn against a heavy workload for their players, to say ‘we eschew one competition’. There is no need for it any more.”

Chelsea set for Sule approach

Chelsea are ready to rekindle their interest in Hoffenheim defender Niklas Sule when the transfer window re-opens in January, sources close to the  club have told ESPN.

Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is looking to bring in another central defender to add to his options as he aims to maintain his side’s push for the Premier League title.

However, they could face competition from Bayern Munich, who are also weighing up a move for the player.

The Blues have held a long-term interest in Sule and tried to sign the 21-year-old in the summer transfer window only for the player to remain at his German Bundesliga club.

Atalanta not fearing Juve, says Gasperini

Gian Piero Gasperini has warned Juve that Atalanta will approach this weekend’s Serie A clash without fear as the two sides meet in Turin on Saturday.

Atalanta have bagged 25 points from the last possible 27 in Serie A, leaving them just one point outside of the UEFA Champions League places.

“I would be lying if I said that I’d predicted that our next match against Juventus would be a top of the table clash,” Gasperini told Atalanta’s official website.

“We go to Juventus Stadium in our best form. We’ll go there to play, without distorting our characteristics.

“I don’t know where we can go this season, it’s difficult to make a forecast but every week we can go a step further.”


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