Ribery, Benzema acquitted
Franck Ribery and Karim Benzema were on Thursday acquitted of charges of having sex with an under-age prostitute that have been hanging over the two France stars for four years. The decision by a Paris court ends legal proceedings that had threatened to end in prison terms that could have prevented one or both of them from playing in this year’s World Cup in Brazil. Ribery’s brother-in-law was also cleared of the charges against him in what had become known as the “Zahia affair” after the former prostitute involved, Zahia Dehar. However, the judge convicted five other men linked to Ribery and Benzema of pimping, handing down prison sentences to four of them.
Taarabt signs for AC Milan
AC Milan have signed Morocco midfielder Adel Taarabt on loan from English second-tier club Queens Park Rangers until the end of the season, British media reported. “I’m very happy to be here and it’s an honor to play for the strongest team in Italy,” the 24-year-old told the Milan TV Channel after leaving Premier League side Fulham, where he had also been on loan. “I already spoke to [AC Milan manager Clarence] Seedorf and he told me what he expects of me. I can’t wait to start playing.” Milan are having a poor season by their standards and are currently languishing in ninth place and a massive 28 points behind Serie A leaders Juventus.
Lazio take Postiga on loan
SS Lazio on Thursday announced the loan signing of former Tottenham Hotspur flop Helder Postiga from Spanish side Valencia. The 31-year-old Portuguese striker joins the Serie A side until the end of the season with an option to buy. “Lazio have reached agreement with the Spanish club Valencia for the temporary transfer, with an option to buy, of Helder Postiga,” a statement on Lazio’s Web site said. Postiga began his career at Porto before joining Spurs, where he spent an ill-fated 2003-2004 season. He returned to Porto in 2004, but was loaned to AS Saint-Etienne in 2006, then to Panathinaikos in 2008, before his shock signing for Portugal’s Sporting in 2008. He signed for Real Zaragoza in 2011, spending a promising season with the La Liga outfit, before joining Valencia at the start of this season.
Juventus eyeing Osvaldo
Southampton striker Dani Osvaldo is on the verge of signing for Serie A champions Juventus, according to reports on Thursday. Sky Sport Italia reported that Osvaldo would arrive in Turin on loan until the end of the season, with an option to buy. The report added the deal includes clauses relating to appearances and goals that would benefit the Premier League side. Osvaldo’s return to Serie A would come as little surprise given his turbulent season in England. Southampton, who signed Osvaldo from AS Roma on a four-year deal in the summer, recently suspended him for two weeks after a reported training ground clash with teammate Jose Fonte.
Leverkusen sign Guardado
Bayer 04 Leverkusen on Thursday signed Mexico left winger Andres Guardado on loan until the end of the season from Spanish club Valencia. The 27-year-old has made 99 appearances for Mexico and can play at leftback or on the left wing. Leverkusen, who are second in the Bundesliga behind Bayern Munich, retain the option to buy Guardado when the loan deal finishes.