Milan, Juve want Balotelli
Manchester City’s volatile striker Mario Balotelli could soon be on his way back to his native Italy, with sources familiar with the talks saying AC Milan and Juventus are interested in a deal. The English champions have been talking to the Serie A clubs in the past 24 hours, with Milan widely reported to have offered about 20 million euros (US$26.92 million) plus add-ons for the 22-year-old, but this has fallen short of City’s price tag. City have not been actively trying to sell Balotelli, who has never been far from the headlines with a series of on and off-field antics, but if he were to leave the club in this month’s transfer window, it would not be on a loan deal. Balotelli joined Man City from Inter in 2010 for about 22 million euros and has had a sometimes troubled time at the club, including clashes with manager and compatriot Roberto Mancini and disciplinary issues.
Subban to rejoin Canadiens
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban ended his contract holdout on Monday, when the restricted free agent agreed to rejoin the Canadiens. The 23-year-old Canadian will receive a two-year contract worth US$5.75 million, according to local reports, and will report to the team today after missing the first four games of the season. “I think it was the right decision to come to an agreement,” Subban told reporters. “The longer this thing held over our team, the bigger distraction it becomes.” Subban was the Canadiens leader in ice time last season as he tallied seven goals and 29 assists in 81 games. Montreal (3-1-0) has coped well in Subban’s absence since the lockout-reduced season opened earlier this month, but his return will come as a welcome boost for the Canadiens.
West Ham sign Pogatetz
West Ham on Monday signed Austria defender Emanuel Pogatetz on loan from Wolfsburg until the end of the season. Pogatetz, 30, already has experience in the Premier League after his spell with Middlesbrough between 2005 and 2010 and he said he was looking forward to returning to English soccer. “I feel very good to be here and I am very excited about playing for West Ham,” he told West Ham’s Web site. “I am looking forward to the opportunity to play for the club and help it get good results. I will be doing my best to play well and hope I can play a part in the club achieving the targets for this season.”
Security tight in Jerusalem
Jerusalem police deployed hundreds of forces yesterday to secure a flashpoint soccer match between an Arab-Israeli team and Beitar Jerusalem, a club known for its hard core of anti-Arab fans. Beitar had initially sought to have its clash with Umm al-Fahm played before an empty stadium to avoid potential clashes between its supporters and fans of the Arab-Israeli side, who are based in a Galilee town of the same name. The match between Beitar and Maccabi Umm al-Fahm comes after the Jerusalem club was plunged into turmoil by reports its owner was planning to sign two Muslim Chechen players. The news enraged some of the club’s fans, who chanted racist anti-Arab slogans. After the match, police arrested three Beitar fans for incitement to racism. In March last year, 16 Beitar supporters were arrested after they surged into Jerusalem’s main shopping mall screaming: “Death to Arabs,” following a match. Footage of the incident showed the fans spitting on Arab women in the mall and then assaulting Arab men who tried to intervene.