Diarra heading for Spain
Portsmouth confirmed yesterday that they have accepted a bid from Real Madrid for midfielder Lassana Diarra. The 23-year-old, who has not played for almost a month because of an ankle injury, joined the club from Arsenal in January for around £5 million (US$7.6 million). It is believed the Spanish giants could be offering as much as £24 million for Diarra. “We have always said we would only allow our players to leave if we received an exceptional bid,” a spokesman told the club Web site. “It shows how far the club has come under the ownership of Alexandre Gaydamak when Real Madrid come in for one of our players. Should the deal be completed, the club have already identified possible replacements,” he said.
Feyenoord to get new home
Dutch giants Feyenoord are getting a new stadium that is expected to be the biggest in the Netherlands. The stadium is to be called the New Kuip and will have a reported capacity of 80,000. It should be completed in 2016, which would be in time for it to host the 2018 World Cup final if the Netherlands and Belgium successfully bid for the tournament. “This is a project that will put Rotterdam on the map, with the stadium as an international landmark,” Rotterdam mayor Ivo Opstelten said yesterday. Feyenoord, considered one of the big three Dutch clubs along with Ajax and PSV Eindhoven, are languishing in 12th place in the Dutch league. The design of the new stadium, which will be part of a new sports complex including training facilities and a speedskating track, has not yet been finalized.
Souness rules himself out
Graeme Souness has ruled himself out of returning for a second spell as manager of Blackburn Rovers after the struggling Premier League club sacked Paul Ince. The former Liverpool and Scotland midfielder, who has also managed at Anfield, left Ewood Park in 2004 to manage Newcastle. Souness was installed as the favorite to take over at Rovers the moment Ince was dismissed on Tuesday. But Souness told the Lancashire Telegraph: “I don’t know anything and have had no contact at all from Blackburn Rovers. It doesn’t surprise me to see my name in there but I’m not your man, I can definitely say that.” Souness’ comments mean Sam Allardyce is set to become the front-runner in the race for the Blackburn job. The former Bolton and Newcastle manager lost out to Ince in June. Blackburn chairman John Williams has confirmed he has one name at the top of the list and hopes to make an announcement before the end of the week.
Kewell recovering after op
Socceroos star Harry Kewell expects to return to training within a month following a hernia operation in Sydney, national team coach Pim Verbeek said yesterday. Kewell injured himself last month playing for Turkish club Galatasaray and returned home for the minor surgery. Dutchman Verbeek said Kewell was now resting in Sydney after the operation earlier this week. “Harry is fine and is aiming to start training again in three to four weeks’ time,” Verbeek said in a statement. Kewell could have delayed the surgery but decided to treat the problem because Galatasaray are already through to the latter stages of the UEFA Cup and the Turkish league is about to take a winter break. “Harry’s a tough customer and is used to playing with, and through, injury over most of his career,” Verbeek said. “But this is an injury that could be dealt with efficiently.”