Afellay completes transfer
Midfielder Ibrahim Afellay said he was prepared to fight for his place in the Barcelona team after completing his transfer from PSV Eindhoven on Friday. Speaking in perfect Spanish to the media, the 24-year-old said joining the Spanish giants was like a dream, adding “when I was a kid, I wanted to play for Barca.” Andoni Zubizarreta, Barcelona’s sporting director, said Afellay signed a four-and-a-half year contract and PSV were paid 3 million euros (US$4 million) for the player. The two clubs reached an agreement over the transfer on Nov. 15. “We have absolutely no plans to sign anybody else during this transfer window,” Zubizarreta said. Afellay is one of a long line of Netherlands players to have joined Barcelona, beginning with Johan Cruyff and including Johan Neeskens, Ronald Koeman, Patrick Kluivert and former coach Frank Rijkaard. “Players from Holland have always been welcome here,” Afellay said. “Players like Cruyff or Kluivert are very well known and they have told me this is the best club in the world.” Afellay acknowledged it will be tough to make his mark within the team. “That’s normal at a club like this where there are so many quality players, but I’ll fight for my place,” he said. Afellay was in the Netherlands squad which reached this year’s World Cup final, making three substitute appearances.
Smith has Test cap stolen
South Africa captain Graeme Smith appealed for help on Twitter on Friday after discovering his much-loved match cap had been stolen ahead of the second Test against India. Smith said his green Proteas cap, which he was given for his first Test in 2002, had gone missing while he traveling from Cape Town to Durban for the match, which begins today. “Realise this is a long shot, but had my test cap that I’ve used since my 1st test for proteas stolen on travel up to durbs,” Smith tweeted. “Cap means a lot to me so if you know anything pls give me a shout......thx.” Many players attach sentimental value caps awarded on their Test debuts. Former Australia star Steve Waugh kept the same cap throughout his 168-Test career.
Besiktas snap up Almeida
Besiktas have signed Portugual striker Hugo Almeida from Werder Bremen on a three-and-a-half-year contract. In a statement posted on their Web site on Friday, Besiktas said they will pay Werder Bremen 2 million euros (US$2.6 million). The 26-year-old Almeida joins compatriot Simao Sabrosa at the Turkish club after the winger signed from Atletico Madrid earlier on Friday.
Diego threatens legal action
Diego Maradona threatened legal action against Argentine soccer association president Julio Grondona on Friday. “I am not going to go on about Grondona. I am going directly to see my lawyers to start an action after all he has said. He has lost control,” Maradona told the Clarin newspaper. Maradona and Grondona have been at loggerheads since the Argentine soccer legend was deposed as coach following the team’s defeat by Germany at the World Cup quarter-finals. On Thursday, the 79-year-old Grondona hit back at Maradona for describing him as “senile.” “I am not senile, I am not an informer and I never will be,” he said. “One day he [Maradona] loves you, the next he hates you. There are reasons for this, we all know what they are,” added Grondona, alluding to Maradona’s battle with drugs. Maradona insisted on Friday that he is free of drug and alcohol problems. “I haven’t taken anything for six years, not even a glass of wine.”