A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Turkish club opens talks with Sneijder
Galatasaray have opened talks to try to sign Inter Milan’s out-of-favour Dutch playmaker Wesley Sneijder, the Turkish league leaders said yesterday. The 28-year-old has not played for the Italian side since negotiations aimed at getting him to accept a cut in wages broke down in November.
“Galatasaray have begun talks with Inter for the transfer of Wesley Sneijder,” a statement from the Turkish champions said. “The public will be informed of developments.”
Sneijder, who inspired Inter to their 2010 treble before helping the Netherlands to finish runners-up at the World Cup, has been linked with a move to the Premier League but his large wages have been seen as a stumbling block.
Scholes says Liverpool fixture is still United's 'biggest game'
Paul Scholes has taken a swipe at Manchester City and started the build-up to Liverpool’s visit to Old Trafford by claiming that matches against the Anfield club are “always the biggest games and the best atmospheres” for Manchester United.
City are the reigning Premier League champions and the Manchester derby has intensified in recent years, whereas Liverpool are eighth in the league, 21 points adrift of United, but Scholes insists Sunday’s fixture remains a key one.
“Whether Manchester City have overtaken Liverpool now [as United’s biggest rivals], I don’t know; it’ll probably take years for City to create what Liverpool have done,” United’s veteran midfielder told Inside United magazine.
“Liverpool historically are our biggest rivals, they’re always the biggest games and the best atmospheres. But I’m sure City will run them close.”
“Liverpool probably haven’t done as well as they’d have liked over the last few years and they’d probably be the first to admit that,” he said.
“But it’s definitely still right up there – it’ll always be right up there.”
Cabaye's return delayed as injures add to Pardew pressure
There was more bad news for Newcastle United yesterday when it emerged Yohan Cabaye is unlikely to have recovered from a groin injury in time to return to Alan Pardew’s team for their vital Premier League game at Norwich on Saturday.
With the club having lost nine of their last 11 League games, Pardew, admits the club’s season is “on a knife edge” and had hoped his France playmaker would be fit for the weekend. Newcastle’s manager is also likely to be without Steven Taylor, who is struggling with a hamstring injury, at Carrow Road, as well as Hatem Ben Arfa and the suspended Shola Ameobi.
While Ben Arfa is set to return next month, Cabaye and Taylor had been pencilled in to face Chris Hughton’s team but Pardew is not prepared to gamble on rushing them back too soon.
Club punished for supporters' racial abuse
Italian fourth division side Pro Patria have been ordered to play one match behind closed doors as punishment for racist chanting towards AC Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng.
A friendly on January 3rd was abandoned when Boateng responded to abuse by kicking the ball at Pro Patria fans.
The Ghana midfielder then tore off his shirt and walked off the pitch because of monkey chants, followed by the rest of the Milan side, drawing widespread praise across the game.
The Italian lower league (Lega Pro) said the club was fined in October over “similar incidents” adding the taunts were “clearly racial discrimination” and deserved an immediate one-game stadium ban.
Gerrard believes he is getting back to his best form
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard believes he is getting back to his best form after a mixed start to the current season.
The England captain has played every minute of all 21 Premier League matches this season, scoring four times.
In recent weeks, in particular against Fulham and Sunderland, the 32-year-old has excelled and he thinks people are starting to see the Gerrard of old.
“I’ve had mixed experiences this season,” he said. “I’ve passed some unbelievable landmarks for club and country, getting to the 600-games mark and winning my 100th cap for England.
“ I think my performances are getting closer to where I want them to be so if I can add goals to those performances then maybe people will start saying the old Steven Gerrard is back.”
League bodies agree to merge as part of a radical shake-up
Both Scottish league bodies yesterday agreed in principle to merge as part of a radical shake-up of the professional game. Talks hosted by the Scottish FA produced a breakthrough that could lead to a combined three-tier structure incorporating extended play-offs, a pyramid system allowing movement into the new league and a fairer distribution of wealth.
The Scottish Premier League and Scottish Football League will put the plans to their 42 clubs by the end of the month, but there was widespread consensus at yesterday’s Hampden talks and change could even come by the start of next season.
A growing consensus has emerged in favour of a 12-12-18 structure that would see the bottom four teams in the “Premiership” and top four teams in the “Championship” move into a middle division 22 games into the season. The resulting top half would start the next campaign in the top flight.