Valencia joins Man United
Manchester United said on Tuesday they signed Wigan winger Antonio Valencia on a four-year contract for a fee believed to be in the region of £16 million (US$22 million). “Joining Manchester United is a dream come true for me,” the 23-year-old Ecuadoran said. “I have enjoyed my time at Wigan, but I am thrilled to have the chance to challenge for the biggest honors in club football here. Playing in front of 76,000 fans alongside players like Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs will be an amazing experience. I can’t wait to get started.” United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been a fan of Valencia, who spent two seasons with Wigan and helped turn the club into an established top flight side. “Antonio is a player we have admired for some time now, having spent the last two years in the Premier League with Wigan,” Ferguson said. “I am sure his pace and ability will make a significant contribution to the team.”
Saints face going under
Southampton are on the verge of going out of business after The Pinnacle group — which included legendary Saints player Matt Le Tissier — withdrew their interest in buyng the club on Tuesday. Pinnacle’s interest waned once the Football League — the body that oversees the clubs outside the Premier League — insisted that they could not appeal against a 10 point penalty imposed last season that will see them start next season in League One minus 10 points. This was imposed once the 1976 FA Cup winners’ — whose highest ever league finish was second in the old First Division in 1983-1984 season — parent company went into administration in April. Le Tissier confirmed on Tuesday the group has withdrawn from negotiations — amid fears that the club may now be only days away from going out of business. “We’ve been trying ever so hard but we’ve been banging our head against a brick wall,” Le Tissier told BBC Radio Solent. “I’m very sad, but hopeful that Mark Fry can find someone to take over the club. Everybody’s worried, we’ve all been working very hard but it’s getting to the point where it’s very desperate.”
Di Matteo joins Baggies
Former Italy midfielder Roberto Di Matteo was named manager of relegated Premier League side West Bromwich Albion on Tuesday. The 39-year-old — capped 34 times by his country but forced to retire because of injury in 2002 — signed a one year rolling contract after a successful spell as coach of League One side MK Dons. Di Matteo — who was born in Switzerland and took the Milton Keynes based side to last season’s League One play-offs — replaces Tony Mowbray, who left to manage Scottish giants Celtic earlier this month. Di Matteo enjoyed a successful playing career especially with Chelsea with whom he won two FA Cups and a League Cup as well as the now defunct European Cup Winner’s Cup.
Burnley snap up striker
Scottish international striker Steven Fletcher became newly promoted Burnley’s record signing on Tuesday when they agreed a £3 million fee with Scottish club Hibernian. The 22-year-old has been capped four times and was named young player of the year last season. Burnley — who earlier on Tuesday signed defender Tyrone Mears for £500,000 from Championship side Derby County -— confirmed the signing of Fletcher on their Web site. Fletcher’s fee is double the previous record outlay when they signed Martin Paterson and Chris Eagles for £1.5 million apiece last year.