West Ham United confirm the signing of Spain under-21 midfielder Pedro Obiangfrom Sampdoria for a fee thought to be in the region of £4.4m. Obiang tells the Hammers’ club website: “We have been talking about this for a long time and now I’ve finally got the chance to come here. “I think Slaven Bilic is a manager that can do very well here. He is a manager that likes to play good football and I really like that so I am sure that we will get along very well.”
Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has moved a step closer to being tried for tax evasion after a Spanish high court rejected his latest appeal. The Argentine and his father Jorge are both accused of defrauding the authorities of more than €4m (£3.1m). The court ruled that Messi should not be granted impunity for not knowing what was happening with his finances. The pair, who deny the charges, are alleged to have withheld the money between 2007 and 2009.
Arsenal midfielder Abou Diaby is among the most notable names on the Premier Leagues list of released players. The list includes out of contract players available on a free transfer, although all could still be offered new deals by their current clubs. Ron Vlaar of Aston Villa and Sunderland’s Wes Brown fall into that category, but the likes of Sylvain Distin (Everton), Paul McShane(Hull), Glen Johnson (Liverpool), Micah Richards(Manchester City), Artur Boruc(Southampton), Gerhard Tremmel (Swansea), Gareth McAuley (West Brom) and Guy Demel(West Ham) have been freed.
Brazil’s captain, Marta became the all-time leading goalscorer in Women’s World Cup history as she netted her 15th finals goal in a 2-0 win over South Korea. The 29-year-old forward’s second-half penalty took her clear of former Germany striker Birgit Prinz. Marta’s team-mate Formiga opened the scoring to become, at 37, the oldest goalscorer in the tournament’s history. Formiga, playing at a record-equalling sixth World Cup, took advantage of an error by Korean defender Kim Doyeon to give the 2007 runners-up the lead. And, making her 137th international appearance, she was then felled in the penalty box by Cho Soh-yun to present Marta with the chance to make history. The closest Brazil have come to winning the women’s game’s biggest prize was in 2007, when they lost to Germany in the final. Marta said it would be a “dream” to win the title and said she hoped to continue playing through to the 2016 Rio Olympics. “It is a thought that I have, to play in the Olympics,” she said. “It will depend on if I’m playing well. It would be fantastic if we won the World Cup and we would then be very motivated to get the gold medal at the Olympics. That would mean a lot to all of us.”
Germany’s U-20 captain Kevin Akpoguma is of Nigerian parentage and has declared that the Round-16 match against Nigeria is special for him. “I’m half-Nigerian as my father is Nigerian, and I’m glad to be able to say that,” the youngster told FIFA.com, a smile playing about his lips. “This match is already a special one for me; my parents are here and Thursday will be even more memorable for my Dad. Although he’ll have both his Germany and Nigeria flags at the ready for when the national anthems are played, in the end he’ll just be happy if his son gets to the next round.” Even when he was a very small child, his father took him to the football pitch every day and helped him learn to have fun with a ball at his feet. “I’m very grateful to him,” he said, “but I also know that I’ll go into this match like I do every other. I was born and grew up in Germany so I consider myself to be German.” Nevertheless, this powerful defender – capable of playing both as a centre-back and on the right side of a four-man defence – remains well-placed to identify with his team’s upcoming opponents. He has visited Nigeria twice and his grandparents live in Benin City, where Akpoguma fondly remembers everyone going to church on Sundays and then playing football together – something he was understandably pleased to be part of. It is clear that the Hoffenheim youngster is proud of these experiences and has been shaped by them. “As a person I always want to get on well with everyone,” he said. “I can’t hate or envy anyone. I enjoy meeting everybody and I think that kind of mentality is typical for Nigeria. “I always have fun and enjoy what I’m doing and the way I feel,” Akpoguma went on, pausing for a moment before grinning and adding: “As a footballer I also would say that I have my African roots to thank for my athleticism because I’m still fast despite being tall.”