HOOPER STAYING

The Celtic manager Neil Lennon has said that the Premier league club Norwich City should not be wasting their time in trying to sign the Celtic player Gary Hooper. The striker has been linked with a move to the Premier league for quite a while now. Norwich even had two bids rejected recently. The bids were thought to be in the region of £ 5 million. However, Lennon has urged the Chief Executive of the club not to consider any offer for the player because of the lack of time to find a replacement. A few weeks after the end of the transfer window, Celtic will be playing against the Italian champions Juventus in the last 16 stage of the Champions league.

Celtic have valued the player at around £ 8 million, but even if Norwich manage to match that figure Celtic will now not be looking to sell the player according to Lennon. He has also said that Tottenham are also interested in the player. Due to the rebuff from the Scottish club, it is thought that Norwich will be focusing their attention on the Leeds United forward Luciano Becchio. Lennon has also said that he would like to ideally strengthen the squad before the end of the transfer window.

“We’ve had two bids in from Norwich and that’s been it. It won’t surprise me if another bid comes in, but the answer will be the same. That (Spurs) is just speculation. People are working hard down the road, maybe to unsettle the player for their own reasons. I have left Gary to it. I spoke to him maybe a week to 10 days ago. He is playing brilliantly, it hasn’t seemed to have affected him. Everyone has a price, but the timing would be so wrong for everything we want,” said Lennon.

NEYMAR STILL IMPROVING

The Santos striker Neymar has been regarded as one of the best players in the world, but not in the eyes of everyone. There have been suggestions that the 20-year-old has not yet proved himself at the highest level possible. He has repeatedly avoided the opportunity to join a big European club in order to stay in Brazil. However, the Brazil manager Luiz Felipe Scolari is of the opinion that Neymar will be equal to Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the 2013 season. Neymar has only stated that he would be willing to leave Brazilian football only after the end of the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The arrival of Scolari means that there are likely to be a few changes with regard to the team selection. Even though Neymar will be the central figure to the plans of Scolari, it remains to be seen if he can match the players from Europe. Scolari has also identified several key youngsters for the Brazilian national team. He has said that he will see in the future whether the likes of Oscar of Chelsea and Lucas Mora of PSG will progress in the same way that they have did in recent years. Scolari will be naming his first squad since taking over the job as the national team manager.

“I’m 99% sure, next year Neymar will be among the top three. Not just the current season, but also over the past two or three years. Neymar has been excellent in 2011 and 2012, and will probably be even better in 2013. In 10 years, we had probably five great players, but in the last two or three years they were not at the top. In 2013, Neymar will be for sure. Lets see how it goes for Lucas Moura in Paris, I see Oscar is playing very well,” said Scolari.

SCOLARI WILL CUT MISTAKES

The Brazilian national team manager Luiz Felipe Scolari has said that the team has to cut out the mistakes if they are to win the Confederations cup that will take place in the summer. The former Chelsea manager was recently appointed as the successor for the recently sacked Mano Menezes. He has been given the task of once again guiding a Brazilian team that is not at its best in recent years. Despite having some of the best talent in world football like Oscar and Neymar, Brazil have not been able to dominate the tournaments. They recently lost at the London Olympics 2012 in addition to the failures at the Copa America.

The group stages of the Confederations cup has recently been announced with Brazil facing Japan, Mexico, and Italy in the group stages. The 64-year-old manager has said that Brazil have the opportunity to win this tournament, but only if they cut out the mistakes. He has said that this will be a great chance to see the potential of the team because the group is extremely balanced. The technical assistant of the national team Carlos Alberto Parreira also said the same about the national team. If they commit any mistakes in the group stages, then it will be extremely tough to win the competition itself according to the technical assistant.

“It is an interesting draw because the teams in our group are all very balanced. It is a good chance to see our potential in these matches. We cannot choose who we are going to face in the first match but the order is not going to change our ambitions. We have to cut out any mistakes against those three teams,” Scolari told Globo. “This group does not give us any chance to make mistakes,” said Parreira.

BRAZIL ARE YOUNG

The Brazilian national team manager Mano Menezes has said that he is of the opinion that the current national team is extremely young, and it could certainly do with the presence of a few experienced players like Kaka. The 30-year-old Real Madrid midfielder was recently called up for the Brazilian national team after a gap of more than two years. During this period, Brazil have pressed to go back to their roots by playing a passing style of football rather than the counter-attacking style that became popular less than a decade ago. However, results have been mixed so far and the Brazilian manager recently called up the experienced campaigner in the form of Kaka.

He has backed his decision to bring the 30-year-old backed international fold despite the fact that he has played very little football over the last few seasons due to the culmination of poor form and a number of injuries. He has said that the team with the likes of Neymar and Oscar is extremely young, and it needs the presence of players like Kaka in order to flourish. The Real Madrid midfielder has so far represented the national team in 84 matches and has scored 29 goals. He is expected to be picked for the 2013 Confederations cup if he retains his fitness levels.

“Football is not just about experience. But it is clear that we need it and that is very important. Kaká is already known from other major competitions and we respect him for that. I see a lot of other international selections, and compare. There are several players who have over 100 games and we have a group that is not there yet. We will try to do the best possible with a mix of youth and experience,” said the Brazilian national team manager.

GETTING USED TO IT

The Brazilian midfielder Lucas Mora has said that it will take awhile before the national team gets used to playing without some of the high-profile names like Kaka and Ronaldinho. The Brazilian national team has always been synonymous with extremely high profile players like Ronaldo, who was followed by Ronaldinho and Kaka. However, the Brazilian national team is now in a transformation state with a number of the star names either close to the end of their careers or not in the best of shapes. As a result, the current national team manager Mano Menezes has tried to bring in a number of young players with a view of building for the future.

The 19-year-old Lucas Mora is one among the players to be part of the national team that is being reshaped by Mano Menezes. However, Mano Menezes has come under intense criticism of late for the poor performances of the national team, despite the fact that they have been successful in the last four matches. Brazil recently managed a lacklustre 2-1 win over Argentina, who rested a number of high profile players like Lionel Messi. It took a last-minute penalty from Neymar to win the match, which did not please the Brazilian fans. However, Mora has called for patience because it will take time to integrate these new players.

“People are a little impatient I guess, we are performing well but we had a difficult time against Argentina, because it was a complicated match. They kept themselves behind the ball at all times and waited for us to attack. But we worked hard to find spaces, and we were rewarded with the late penalty scored by Neymar. I know that the Selecao isn’t having its best moments, Mano Menezes is still looking for a way to make this team click,” said Lucas.

SONG NOT FOR SALE

The Barcelona vice president Josep Bartomeu has said that the Premier league club Arsenal were not interested in selling the star midfielder Alex Song. Barcelona have secured a number of Arsenal players in the past, which has helped them quickly seal the deal for the 24-year-old Cameroon international Alex Song. However, the vice president of the Catalan club has now revealed that Arsenal did not want to sell the player, but were left with no other alternative after the decision by the player to leave the club. Despite having spent a number of years at the Emirates stadium, Song has not lifted a major title with the club.

It is thought to be a major factor in his decision to leave the club. Song was signed for just £ 2.5 million by the manager Arsene Wenger. He has made a hefty profit on the player after deciding to sell him for more than £ 15 million. Even though Josep Bartomeu has said that the speed of negotiations was extremely satisfying, the negotiations themselves was not easy because Arsenal were needed to be persuaded a lot in order to sell the star assets. Song and Robin van Persie are the major departures from the Emirates stadium in this summer.

“It was not easy to bring Song to Barca. As happened with Cesc [Fabregas], Arsenal did not want to sell him and were asking a high price, but we are happy with what we paid both for Cesc and Song. The negotiations weren’t easy, but the player wanted to come, and that made things easier. It was tough, but it all went much faster than other negotiations have done,” said the vice president of the club after unveiling the signing of the 24-year-old Cameroon international, who had 14 assists to his name last season.

VALDES BACKS DEL BOSQUE

Spanish and Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes has come to the rescue of manager Vicente del Bosque, who has been criticised after the 1-1 draw with Italy in the opening group game of Euro 2012. The Spanish national team manager decided to replicate the Barcelona style of football by not using a traditional striker.

Instead, he used Cesc Fabregas has the false striker in a match. Even though Cesc Fabregas scored the equaliser for Spain, many criticised that they could have easily won the match had they used a proper striker like Fernando Torres. Victor Valdes, though, has said that Spain should be extremely happy with the 1-1 draw given that they were playing against the 2006 world champions.

Spain will now be facing France in the quarter-final stage of the competition after having qualified as the group winners. This is certainly going to be a tough match for Spain due to the fact that many are comparing France with Barcelona. Valdes acknowledges that France are looking to play the way Barcelona play their football, but reckons that Spain have enough quality in their ranks to get the result. He has also said that the team should be wary of the threat given by French striker Karim Benzema.

“I do not understand the criticism targeted at the coach, nor do I share it. In football, things can go better or worse, but the results are there. I think the coach has got everything right since he took charge of the national team. He is calm and seeing how we are working to prepare for the matches. He wants to protect the group and make sure we keep doing things well and secure the results like we did at World Cup 2010. He is one of the most dangerous strikers in the world,” said Victor Valdes.