Khedira to leave Madrid
Midfielder Sami Khedira on Wednesday said he would leave Real Madrid when his contract expires at the end of the season. “There is nothing more to say than what I told the sports magazine [Kicker], when there’s anything more I’ll say it,” the 27-year-old said. Having joined Real in 2010 from VfB Stuttgart, Khedira won last season’s UEFA Champions League with the Spanish giants and has been linked to Bundesliga side Schalke 04. “This is not a decision against Real, I just want to spice up my career and evolve,” Khedira told yesterday’s edition of Kicker. “There is no absolutely no agreement with anyone or a preference at the moment.” Premier League sides Chelsea and Arsenal have also been linked to the Real star, who was denied a place in last year’s World Cup final after suffering an injury in the pre-match warmup having played a key role in Germany’s 7-1 demolition of hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.
Stindl to join ’Gladbach
Hannover 96 captain Lars Stindl announced on Wednesday that he will leave the club in the summer to join Bundesliga rivals Borussia Moenchengladbach. The 26-year-old’s deal with Hannover was not due to expire until 2016, but a clause in the contract allows him to move on this year. “I decided not to renew my contract with Hannover and to leave for Moenchengladbach this summer,” Stindl wrote in a letter posted on Twitter, adding that he wished “to take on a new challenge at Borussia.” “We had stiff competition, so I’m glad that he chose us,” Moenchengladbach sporting director Max Eberl said. “He is a midfielder who can play in different positions and, as captain of Hannover, he knows about taking responsibility.”
Forster out for the season
Southampton’s England international goalkeeper Fraser Forster is to miss the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury, the Premier League club announced on Wednesday. The 27-year-old injured his left knee after colliding with Sam Vokes in the early stages of Southampton’s 2-0 defeat of Burnley on Saturday and a subsequent scan revealed that he had damaged his patellar tendon. In a statement on their Web site, the club said: “A scan on Monday showed that the goalkeeper had suffered damage to his left patellar tendon, with the injury and resultant surgery ruling him out for the remainder of this season.” Veteran goalkeeper Kelvin Davis, 38, is set to deputize for Forster, having replaced him during the win over Burnley at St Mary’s. “No one will be any sadder than Kelvin Davis, who did an outstanding job replacing Fraser in such circumstances,” Southampton executive director Les Reed said. “Nobody could be better placed to step into the fray in terms of experience and ability.”
Camp Nou to host Copa final
The Copa del Rey final between record winners Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao on May 30 is to be held at Barca’s Camp Nou, the Spanish soccer federation (RFEF) said on Wednesday. Barca and Bilbao wanted to play the match at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu as a neutral venue, but Real declined to make the arena available. Representatives from the two finalists met with RFEF officials on Wednesday and the federation decided to stage the final at the Camp Nou, which holds almost 100,000, for the first time since 2010. Stadiums in Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla were also considered. Barca have won the Copa a record 26 times, with Bilbao second on 23.
World No. 1 Tai Tzu-ying yesterday eased past her Thai opponent to advance to the second round of the Toyota Thailand Open. The Taiwanese star toppled world No. 46 Supanida Katethong 21-16, 21-11 in 29 minutes at the Impact Arena in Bangkok. “I think I played OK today. I am feeling a little better than last week,” Tai said. Tomorrow, Tai faces Indonesia’s Gregoria Mariska Tunjung. The two have faced each other six times, with Tai beating the world No. 21 in all six matches. Tai on Sunday reached the final of the Yonex Thailand Open before losing decisively against Carolina Marin of Spain.
LOOKING TO REPEAT: World No. 7 Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin advanced to the round-of-16 at the Toyota Thailand Open, after winning the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday Taiwan’s world No. 7 duo yesterday eased past the US’ world No. 37 pairing at the Toyota Thailand Open to reach the round-of-16 in Bangkok. Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin beat Phillip Chew and Ryan Chew 21-14, 21-11 in just 24 minutes. Lee and Wang, who won the men’s doubles title at the Yonex Thailand Open on Sunday, next face the world No. 34 pairing, Canada’s Jason Anthony Ho-Shue and Nyl Yakura. In men’s singles, Taiwan’s world No. 2 Chou Tien-chen again beat Thailand’s world No. 45 Suppanyu Avihingsanon, after edging past the Thai player in the opening round of the Yonex
SWEEP THE LEG: Poirier, determined to best McGregor, after losing to him in 2014, used low calf kicks to throw ‘Notorious’ off his stand-up game, before dropping him American underdog Dustin Poirier yesterday shook up the world of mixed martial arts, beating up the legs of Irish superstar Conor McGregor before knocking him out at UFC 257 in Abu Dhabi. “I’m happy, but I’m not surprised. I put in the work,” Poirier said, after the referee stepped in after 2 minutes, 32 seconds of the second round to save McGregor from further damage, after he was dropped by a fierce combination of punches. The 32-year-old Poirier was ranked second in the flyweight division going into the fight, but still rated a heavy underdog by bookmakers to beat his fourth-ranked opponent,
Three new COVID-19 cases yesterday hit the Australian Open’s troubled buildup as a backlash grew against international tennis players flown in during a raging pandemic. Two of the new cases were players, state health officials said, taking the total infections to seven since more than 1,000 people arrived in largely COVID-19-free Australia on charter flights last week. The Victoria Department of Health and Human Services said that the two players and a third person associated with the tournament — a woman in her 20s, and two men in their 30s — had returned positive results. The year’s first Grand Slam, delayed three weeks,