Chelsea have signed Fiorentina winger Juan Cuadrado for an initial fee of £23.3m, which could rise to £26.8m. The 26-year-old, who impressed for Colombia at the World Cup, joined Chelsea after fellow winger Andre Schurrle moved to Wolfsburg for £22m. Cuadrado has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract with the English league leaders. Chelsea fringe winger Mohamed Salah, 22, is likely to go on loan to Fiorentina as part of the deal. Cuadrado said: “I am very happy and thankful for this opportunity I’ve been given. This is a great club and honestly it is like a dream to join the Chelsea family and to know that the manager believes in me. I’m happy.” It is thought Cuadrado, who has scored five goals in 37 international appearances, had a release clause in his contract of £26.8m. Cuadrado played in Italy for five and a half years, initially joining Udinese from Medellin in his homeland in 2009. After a loan spell at Lecce, he moved to Fiorentina in 2012 and scored 20 goals in 85 Serie A appearances for the Florence side. Fiorentina coach Vincenzo Montella revealed the deal was imminent on Friday, saying: “It was a sale that had to be done. “Cuadrado is a player that has always arrived with a smile and given everything to Fiorentina – I’m happy for him because he is going to a big club.” Salah has made 19 appearances for Chelsea since joining the club from Basel for a fee in the region of £11m in January 2014.
Wolfsburg have completed the signing of Andre Schurrle from Chelsea for a reported transfer fee in excess of 30 million euros. Schurrle, 24, will return to Bundesliga some 18 months after joining Chelsea from Bayer Leverkusen for a reported transfer fee of 25 million euros and put pen to paper on a contract until 2019 according to the club website. Only minutes before the closure of the German transfer window at 6 p.m. CET on Monday, the Blues and Wolfsburg finally struck a deal for the international winger. Schurrle won the world cup with Germany in Brazil last year. Jonathan Akpoborie and Obafemi Martins both played for Wolfsburg at different times in the past.
Crystal Palace have re-signed winger Wilfried Zaha from Manchester United on a five-and-a-half year deal for an undisclosed fee. Zaha has been playing on loan for Palace this season – the Eagles having sold him to United for £15m in January 2013. The 22-year-old never started a Premier League game for United, and made just two substitute appearances – in the Community Shield and a League Cup tie against Norwich – in an overall total of four games for the club. Zaha made his debut for Palace in 2010 after playing in the club’s academy sides since the age of 12. In January 2013 he agreed to join Manchester United on a five-and-a-half year deal but was immediately loaned back to Palace for the remainder of the 2012/13 season. Out of favour with United coach David Moyes in last season, Zaha completed a loan move to Cardiff City in January 2014 before his season-long loan return to Selhurst Park last August.
Championship side Wigan Athletic have signed Liverpool academy winger Sheyi Ojo on loan for the rest of the season. The 17-year-old joined the Reds from MK Dons in 2011 and despite being on the bench twice this term, he has yet to make his first-team debut. The England Under-18 international is the fifth signing to arrive at the DW Stadium in January. “I have watched him and was excited by what I saw in terms of his pace, touch and awareness,” said boss Malky Mackay. “I spoke to Brendan Rodgers at length about Sheyi and we both agreed that this is the next stage of his development. “Brendan sees him as a Liverpool player of the future and will take him into his squad in the summer.”
Gabriel Paletta says he’s ‘proud to wear this shirt’ as he passes his medical and completes his move to Milan from Parma. The Italian international did his medical this morning, and has spoken to Milan Channel ahead of the deal being officially confirmed. I’m happy, and I want to be available immediately,” Paletta told the television channel. Yesterday I knew that I had to stay here. I’m happy, if a little sorry for my former [Parma] teammates. I’m proud to wear this shirt, I hope I can repay the faith that has been shown in me. I want to help Milan fight for the positions this club deserves, at the top of the table. Everyone must do their part, and I’m coming to give my contribution. I know a lot of the players from the national team and some who played with me at Parma so I hope to integrate myself immediately.”
Former Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Nigeria striker Yakubu has joined Championship club Reading on a deal until the end of the season. The 32-year-old, who has not played in England since leaving Blackburn in 2012, was a free agent after playing for Qatari club Al Rayyan. He has a total of 114 league goals across spells at five English clubs. “His addition will complement the strikers we’ve already got at Reading,” said boss Steve Clarke.“I know all about him as a player and I have heard very good reports about him as a personality in the dressing room. “He is no-risk signing for us and I look forward to him scoring goals for Reading Football Club.” In his last season in England with then-Premier League side Blackburn he scored 18 goals in 33 appearances.
Hamburg SV have signed Chilean defensive midfielder Marcelo Diaz from Swiss side Basel to bolster their backline as they battle to avoid relegation from the Bundesliga, reuters report. Chile international Diaz signed a contract to 2017 after passing a medical in Hamburg on Monday, the club said. “We saw Marcelo’s qualities at the World Cup last summer,” Hamburg sporting director Peter Knaebel said. “He is someone who wants the ball, wants the game focussed on him even in difficult situations. “He can be a bridge (from defence to attack) for our game when we go forward. That is what I expect from him and that is what he has already done at top level.” Hamburg, who have seen billionaire Klaus-Michael Kuehne pump more than 18 million euros (14 million pounds) into the debt-laden club, have also boosted their frontline by bringing in experienced Croatian striker Ivica Olic from VfL Wolfsburg. Hamburg are in the relegation playoff spot in 16th place on 17 points.
After falling out of the plans of Mark Hughes at Stoke City, it seemed inevitable that Robert Huth would leave Stoke City this month, and now he has, signing with bottom-of-the-table Leicester City on loan for the remainder of the season. Huth has been with Stoke in 2009, when he signed from Middlesbrough for £5 million. He’s been a steady presence in Stoke’s side since then, with 188 appearances in all competitions in the five and a half years since. He’s only played 19 times under Mark Hughes in the last 18 months, though, so a divorce definitely seemed to be on the cards. The 30 year old center back joins a Leicester side desperate to find any way possible to avoid relegation; they’re dead last in the Premier League so far this season, having given up a dreadful total of 37 goals in the league so far. They’ll be hoping that Huth’s physical presence will help them fix a defense that’s been struggling with Wes Brown and Liam Moore in the middle.
AC Milan have confirmed the signing of Genoa left-back Luca Antonelli. The 27-year-old came through the club’s youth ranks, only to join Genoa via a three-year stint at Parma in 2011. Now, the seven-time Italian international has returned to the San Siro, where he’ll play a big role in the first team. AC Milan have had major defensive problems this season, with their centre-backs their main culprits. However, left-back has been a problem position for them for an awfully long time, so Antonelli will offer them some much needed quality and depth on that side of the field. He’s certainly no world beater, but his spell at Genoa has shown him to be a very solid player, who will offer as much in attack as he will in defence.
Harry Kane has extended his contract with Tottenham Hotspur, with the in-form striker now set to earn a reported £30,000 a week in a new five and a half year deal. The hotly-rated 21-year-old took his tally for his increasingly impressive campaign to 20 with a double in Saturday’s 3-0 Barclays Premier League win at West Brom. It ended a run of four games without a goal and Kane is looking for plenty more as Spurs press on in three competitions. Kane said: “I am really pleased. Twenty goals was my next target after I got 10 and I am happy to be there. “I was on 18 for what felt like ages but I am very happy. Hopefully I can push on and get some more now. “There is still a long way to go and I am really enjoying it at the minute. Hopefully I can continue.”
Before a new African champion is crowned this weekend in Equatorial Guinea, let’s take some time and remember the Super Eagles team that made us proud by winning the 2013 AFCON hosted by South Africa. This would be Nigeria’s third continental title. Drawn in Group C, Nigeria drew 1 – 1 with Burkina Faso and Zambia in their first two group games before defeating Ethiopia 2-0 in their final group game. The Super Eagles defeated a star studded Ivory Coast team 2-1 in the quarterfinal and went on to beat Mali 4-1 in the semifinal. The final match saw the Super Eagles square up again with group rivals Burkina Faso with the Nigerians running away with a lone goal victory courtesy of Sunday Mba to lift the trophy. The heroes are:
Jerome Champagne has withdrawn from the race to become Fifa president after failing to win enough support, BBC reports. The Frenchman, who needed the backing of five national associations, said he had the support of only three in his bid to unseat president Sepp Blatter. “I regret to have to announce that I have not presented the five sponsorship letters needed to be registered as a candidate,” he said in a statement. The election for the presidency will be held on Friday, 29 May. Jerome, 56, a former Fifa executive and ex-diplomat, blamed the “institutions mobilising” to eliminate him. “The institutions have mobilised to eliminate the only independent candidate,” claimed Champagne. Former Portugal and Real Madrid winger Luis Figo, retired France international David Ginola and Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) president Michael van Praag are among the candidates wanting to usurp Blatter. Prince Ali of Jordan, who is backed by the Football Association, has also said he will stand against the 78-year-old. Blatter has been Fifa boss since 1998 and said in June last year that he intended to run for a fifth term.