Wenger focuses on youth
Arsene Wenger will carry on developing young talent rather than pay huge transfer fees for big-name signings, the Arsenal manager said on Friday. “What we need to focus on is continually developing and not live in dreamland where we are linked with players of £30 million (US$43.3 million) to £40 million, because that is not realistic,” Wenger told the club’s Web site. “I can cite you players in the last 10 or 15 years who have cost £30 million and have been a flop.” Arsenal are fifth in the Premier League, 10 points behind leaders Liverpool, and fans have urged Wenger to add new faces to his squad in this month’s transfer window. However the Frenchman, who built his reputation on developing youngsters like Nicolas Anelka, Cesc Fabregas and Patrick Vieira, has faced a tighter financial regime since the club’s expensive Emirates Stadium was built in 2006. “We have gone for a policy that is to develop our young players ... and not listen to everybody [in the media] who comes out every day with a new name,” Wenger said.
Pachuca open with rout
Pachuca took advantage of a porous UAG Tecos defense to rout their rivals 4-0 in the opening round of the InterLiga tournament on Friday. In Friday’s other result, Toluca and Morelia played out a 1-1 draw. Played in the neutral US, the annual InterLiga is an eight-team event between Mexican clubs to determine the two qualifiers for the upcoming Copa Libertadores — the South American continental club championship. Pachuca, just back from the Club World Cup in Japan, went ahead when Paraguayan striker Edgar Benitez scored in the 16th minute after Tecos failed to clear the ball. The 1-0 halftime advantage was soon doubled when defender Marco Ivan Perez headed home in the 48th minute. It was 3-0 soon after when midfielder Edy German Brambila scored off a cross in the 57th minute. Forward Victor Manon capped the scoring on a counterattack in the 89th minute. In the other Group A round-robin match, Morelia went ahead in the 39th minute through defender Fernando Salazar, before striker Sergio Santana equalized for Toluca.
Routledge signs for QPR
Ambitious Championship side Queen’s Park Rangers on Friday signed Aston Villa winger Wayne Routledge for an undisclosed fee, the London club announced. The 23-year-old former Tottenham Hotspur player has penned a three-and-a-half year deal. “I’m absolutely thrilled to be here,” Routledge told the official QPR Web site. “I am delighted to have sealed the move. QPR are a club with huge ambitions and, as soon as they showed interest in me, I was determined to speak to them.” Routledge, who has also played for England under-21s, started his career at Crystal Palace before moving to Spurs in 2005.
Ireland to travel to Bari
The national side will host their World Cup qualifier against Giovanni Trapattoni’s Ireland on April 1 at Bari’s San Nicola Stadium, the Italian Football Federation said on its Web site on Friday. Italy, who visit Montenegro four days before the match, lead Group 8 with 10 points from four games. Ireland are three points behind in second spot after two wins and a draw under former Azzurri manager Trapattoni. The Irish have home matches against Georgia and Bulgaria on Feb. 11 and March 28 respectively, before visiting the world champions in the southern Italian city.