A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Arsenal game against West Ham in doubt over tube strike
Arsenal have confirmed their St Stephen’s Day fixture with West Ham is in doubt due to the threat of a tube strike. London Underground drivers are set to stage three strikes over Bank Holiday pay, with the first scheduled for December 26th.
The move by members of the union Aslef threatens travel chaos in the capital and Arsenal admit their game at the Emirates Stadium is under threat.
“Arsenal Football Club is currently in discussions with the Premier League, West Ham United, police and relevant authorities over the possible postponement of the Boxing Day fixture at Emirates Stadium, following the announcement that London Underground drivers plan industrial action on that day,” a statement on the club’s website read.
QPR’s match with West Brom is going ahead and Fulham insist they have no plans to cancel their match with Southampton.
Balotelli fine hearing takes place today
Mario Balotelli’s lawyers are preparing to present their case after taking the Manchester City striker’s appeal against a club fine to a Premier League tribunal.
Balotelli has exercised his right to take his fight to a league panel after failing to overturn the sanction through City’s internal appeals process.
It is understood City imposed a fine of two weeks’ wages – a figure reported to be around €418,000 – on the Italy international last season for on-field indiscipline.
Neither City nor the Premier League have commented on what is regarded as a private matter but it is understood a hearing will take place today at an undisclosed location in London.
Messi extends contract with Barcelona until 2018
Barcelona secured the futures of leading players Lionel Messi, Xavi and Carles Puyol with renewed contracts yesterday.
World Player of the Year Messi’s deal has been extended by two years to June 30th, 2018, which ties him until he is 31.
Puyol (34), the club’s captain, has agreed a three-year extension to June 30th, 2016, which would effectively see the Spanish international through to the end of his playing career at 38.
Xavi’s existing deal ran until June 2016 depending on appearances but the 32-year-old midfielder’s new contract would now end then regardless of the number of times he played. The new contracts will be signed in the coming weeks.
Offering Messi a further two years indicates how important the Argentine is to the club and ensures they secure his services over the peak of his playing career, injury permitting. At 25, Messi has already set a number of club scoring records and is favourite to win a fourth World Player of the Year award next month.
He has been the top scorer in the Champions League for four years in a row, and hit the headlines recently as he racked up his 90th goal in 2012 for club and country.
Sturridge looks set for €14.7m move to Liverpool
Chelsea will sell forward Daniel Sturridge to Liverpool in January as Rafael Benitez looks to reshape and strengthen his squad. Benitez will discuss transfer targets with the owner, Roman Abramovich, and the technical director, Michael Emenalo, once the side have returned from tonight’s League Cup quarter-final against Leeds United.
Sturridge (23) has started one Premier League game this season and is expected to cost Liverpool £12 million (€14.7m). Brendan Rodgers, the Liverpool manager, hopes the striker will ease the attacking burden on Luis Suarez. Benitez said: “My way to do things is go to the people in charge. They will know my ideas and after the club will decide. You don’t need to talk to the owner too much because he has people in between. ”
FA fine Suso over Twitter comment
Liverpool’s Suso has been fined €12,500 by the Football Association for calling team-mate Jose Enrique “gay” on Twitter. The 19-year-old has also been warned about his future conduct. Suso last month posted a photo of Enrique having his teeth whitened with the comment: “What f*** is he doing? This guy is gay ... he does everything except play football.”
The midfielder later deleted the tweet and uploaded the photo with a different comment, saying: “I dunno what to say ...”
Suso has has made 13 appearances so far this season. The attacking midfielder moved to Anfield from hometown club Cadiz in 2010 and signed a new long-term contract in October.
Napoli docked two points and three players banned
Italian soccer authorities have docked Serie A side Napoli two points and banned three players for between six months and three years over bets placed on a match with Sampdoria in 2010, the Italian Football Federation said yesterday.
Defenders Paolo Cannavaro and Gianluca Grava received six month bans while former goalkeeper Matteo Gianello was banned for three years and three months.
Napoli, who now drop to fifth place in Serie A, were also fined €70,000.
Gianello, who is no longer with Napoli, was accused of agreeing to fix the result of the match in order to bet on a Sampdoria victory. He was accused of trying to involve Cannavaro and Grava, both of whom refused.
They were accused of failing to inform authorities of the offer.