Saturday, March 17, 2007

Weekly Football News Roundup

03/17/07

Inter Milan going at 90% !

There is no doubt that the Italian Serie A is among the strongest leagues in the world and if a team from that league have won 90% of the points in play, now that is something. Internazionale of Milan currently lead the table with 23 wins and 4 draws after 27 games played, which means that Roberto Mancini's team collect nine points out of every ten. The most efficient British team are Manchester United with 72 out of 87 possible points, half a percentage point above the Scottish leaders Celtic.

This table shows the percentage of the points won and the ratio between the points won and maximum possible points.


Team Percentage Points ratio

1. Inter Milano 90% (73/81)

2. Dinamo Zagreb 89,4% (59/66)

3. Levski Sofija 88,2% (45/51)

4. Dinamo Bucharest 86,36% (57/66)

5. Dinamo Kyiv 85% (46/54)

6. Manchester Utd. 82,7% (72/87)

7. Olympiacos 82,67% (62/75)

8. Porto 82,5% (52/63)

9. APOEL Nikozija 82,5 % (52/63)

10. Celtic 82,2% (74/90)



Juventus hope for Lampard coup

Firmly on course for a Serie A return, Juventus of Turin are already sounding the market for reinforcements and among them Chelsea's Frank Lampard figures prominently. The Zebras have set aside a sum of a 100 million euros, which indicates that a couple of big names will be heading to Delle Alpi stadium next season.

After failing to convince Chelsea of the need for a significant pay rise, Lampard is rumoured to be considering making use of a lesser known FIFA rule regarding the buy-out clause.

According to Lampard's legal advisors, he could buy his freedom by depositing 8 million pounds, the amount equivalent to the wages he would earn at Chelsea for the remainder of his contract, expiring in 2008.

Chelsea reportedly disputes Lampard's interpretation of the FIFA rule and threatens to denounce Juventus to the footballing authorities for approaching a player before the last six months of his contract.

Not unrelated to the issue, a court in Portugal ruled this week that a player's buyout clause cannot exceed the amount of wages that a club would pay until the contract expires. The logic behind this is clear: a player worth as much to the club as it is willing to pay him, which is reflected in the player's wages.

The Portuguese professional players' union has already voiced its satisfaction with the ruling and has expressed belief that the court's ruling will set a precedent within the European Union, soon to be applied in all member states.

Hertha luring Lehmann from Arsenal

Jens Lehmann could be on his way back to the Bundesliga, specifically to Hertha, who are looking for a goalkeeper superior to the curent custodian, Christian Fiedler, whose contract expires in 2008.

The Bild daily reports Lehmann's recently expressed wish to return to Germany and claims that Hertha could pull off the deal regardless of their 46.2 million € deficit.

The Berlin club apparently count on a secret sponsor to finance the deal, which could become reality over the next few weeks.

Lehmann (37) came to Arsenal from Borussia Dortmund in 2003 and played in all Arsenal's games in the 2003/04 championship winning season when the club went undefeated through the season.


Raymond Domenech dismisses Wenger's moans

Arsene Wenger's perennial wailing have won him another "friend", this time the French coach Raymond Domenech, who was sick to hear the Arsenal's coach's lament over Thierry Henry's injury.

In reply to Wenger's claim that the French FA and national team were to blame for Henry's season-ending injury, Domenech said his compatriot was inventing a problem to deflect attention from Arsenal's recent disasters.

Wenger blamed his captain's health problems on Domenech for playing the striker in every international friendly this season, including against Bosnia in August.

"I don't want to listen to lectures. Mr Wenger is starting to seriously tire me. He tires a lot of people. He does not know everything. When he talks about an injury in March caused by a match in August, he forgets to say that every time Thierry Henry plays a game for the France team, three days later, he plays for Arsenal. And he has never been injured on international duty."

According to Domenech, Wenger has criticised Roger Lemerre when he was coach, and also Michel Platini.

"There comes a moment when enough is enough. He should better analyse the problem. We aren't to blame."

Beckham ready to travel from the USA to play for England

Rumours that Steve McClaren could recall David Beckham to the national team have delighted the former captain, a few months before his announced transfer to Los Angeles Galaxy of the MLS.

"Playing in the MLS would not be an impediment for my availability. I could travel from the States to play for England," said Becks to the Spanish Sport daily.

"If I play well there, I'm sure I won't go unnoticed. I will always be available for my country if it needs me. That's the way I am as a person and a soccer player. Still, if it does not happen, I'll still be proud of having played the games I have played and captained on many occasions."

Before going to Galaxy, he still hopes to finish his last Spanish season on a high note.
"We can still win the League this season. It would be magnificent to do something important before I go. Even if I don't, I'll always remember my time in Madrid as a success."

Barca and Besiktas in war over a 12-year old genius

The Turkish midfielder Muhammed Demirci is destined to become the most expensive child footballer ever after his club Besiktas of Istanbul have put him a price tag of five million euros.

The 12-year-old Besiktas starlet nicknamed "Muha" amazed during his trial last month's with Barcelona at Camp Nou, prompting the Catalans to offer three million dollars to Besiktas.

After learning of Barcelona's fervent interest in the boy, Besiktas changed their initial decision to sell and raised the price to a prohibitive level.

"The boy first has to provide services to Besiktas. Later on the club could make more money on him," said the Black Eagles' chairman Demirören.

"The problem is that Besiktas does not want Muhammed to go," confirmed Muha's agent Seyit Ates to the Spanish EFE Agency.

Barcelona already have two boy wonders, a bit older than Muha, though: the Serb-born Bojan Krkic and the Mexican Giovanni dos Santos, who are both on the brink of breaking in to the first team.

Jimenez claims Figo hacked him on purpose

Zaragoza's César Jiménez said goodbye to football this week after two years of unsuccessful treatment for the terrible injury on his left knee caused by Luis Figo.

"It was not a struggle for the ball. Figo tackled me with a foot uprisen and his sole to the front. I couldn't say if he was angered by something that had happened to him earlier in the game.
With a tackle on a pitch level I would not have been injured, but he struck my knee and it cracked," Jiménez told As.

Figo's intent was not so much obvious to Jiménez during play, but once he saw the action on television, he went "Oh, my God. (...) He tackled me in order to hurt me."

Amazingly, the referee Losantos did not punish the Portuguese in any way.

"He was six yards away. If a card had to be shown, it had to be a red one. I believe he saw the deliberatedness of the kick, but he chickened out. So Figo came away unpunished. At least the disciplinary committee could have acted in the line of duty. There should be a mechanism protecting players injured like this, by compensating the victim and sanctioning the perpetrator who puts an end to one's career."

Interpol after Rincón over drugs and laundering charges

The famed Colombian international Freddy Rincón has been declared fair game in 186 countries cooperating with Interpol after charges have been brought against him over his alleged involvement with drug smuggling and money laundering.

Interpol issued an arrest warrant for Rincón this week at the request of Panama's authorities, who want to bring the player to trial. The former Napoli, Corinthians and Santos star is accused of having laundered money through a catering business and a fishing company for the Colombian drug lord Pablo Rayo Montańo, captured last year in Brazil.

"Let the Colombian people know that if they heard negative news about me, they will also hear news of my innocence," said Rincón from Brazil, where he has lived since hanging his boots.

The 40-year-old has refused to say whether he will turn himself in to the Panamenian authorities or how he plans to resolve his situation. He admits to having invested 200,000 dolars in business ventures in Panama, but claims that the money comes from his soccer related earnings. After all, a player who represented Colombia on 84 occasions, played in World Cups and won a World Club Championship will have earned much more than the sum in question.

Interestingly, Rincón does not hide his friendship with Rayo Montańo, but says he never asked him what his business interests were. Still, among 61 real estate units confiscated from the drug lord by the Colombian governments are two estates, two flats and one luxury house registered in Rincón's name.

Will Abramovich's divorce affect Chelsea?

Chelsea's owner Roman Abramovich and his wife Irina have divorced in Russia on a consensual basis and have agreed terms in respect of their children and a financial settlement.

Their spokesman said Chelsea would not be affected by the divorce proceedings, although the Russian mogul will part with a huge chunk of his wealth estimated at 15.5 billion euros.

Reports of the size of the settlement vary from 1.5 billion to 7.75 billion euros. While plenty of money would still remain for various Abramovich's interests, for all we know the loss of up to half of his fortune may make him more thrifty and reluctant to pour further nine-figure sums in what is essentially no more than a plaything for him.

Irina and Roman were married for 15 years and have five children.

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