Watford striker Odion Ighalo has signed a new five-year contract with the Premier League club. The 26-year-old has scored 21 goals in 42 appearances since signing for the Hornets from Udinese in July 2014. He has played in every one of Watford’s Premier League matches this season, and netted in the opening-day draw against Everton in August. Ighalo made his Nigeria debut in March and scored his first international goal against Chad three months later.
Lionel Messi has today welcomed into the world his second child with long-term partner Antonella Roccuzzo. The newborn, named in Spanish reports as Mateo, has been born in Barcelona. Messi, 27, only returned from international duty in the United States of America yesterday, affording him just one training session ahead of Saturday’s night’s crunch La Liga clash with Atletico Madrid. But Messi was absent from training due to “family matters” this morning as Miss Roccuzzo went into labour with their second child. Messi and Rocuzzo have been together since 2008, but have known each other since the Argentina captain was just five years old. They have a son, Thiago, who was born on November 2, 2012, when Messi was similarly excused from training to attend the birth. On announcing Thiago’s birth, Messi said: “Today I am the happiest man in the world, my son was born and thanks to God for this gift!”
Swansea City striker Andre Ayew has been named August’s Barclays Premier League Player of the Month, while Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini has won the managers’ award. Ghana international Ayew, 25, has scored three goals as the unbeaten Swans sit in fourth place with eight points from their opening four games. Pellegrini’s side lead the table with four wins from four games. They have scored 10 goals and are yet to concede. Ayew took the award ahead of his team-mate Bafetimbi Gomis as well as Manchester City duo David Silva and Aleksandar Kolarov. Also nominated were Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez and Manchester United’s Chris Smalling. Ayew joined Swansea in June from French club Marseille and scored on his Premier League debut against Chelsea. He and Gomis have provided all of Swansea’s seven league goals so far. They visit Watford on Saturday.
It has happened so quick. Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has signed a new-four year contract with the club. The 24-year-old Spain international almost joined Real Madrid on transfer deadline day, but the necessary paperwork was not submitted in time. De Gea’s previous contract was set to expire next summer, while his new deal includes an option for a further year. “I’m looking forward to putting a difficult summer behind me and working hard,” said De Gea. “I am delighted to be starting this new chapter in my United career. “Manchester United is a special club and Old Trafford is an ideal place for me to continue to develop.” De Gea has not played for United this season as manager Louis van Gaal felt he could not focus amid interest from Real. Had he not signed a new deal, De Gea could have opened talks in January about a free-transfer move to Madrid for next summer. Van Gaal said he was “very pleased” the goalkeeper “will be part of the team for many years to come”.
Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo has defended the club’s controversial loan policy. More than 30 players have departed Stamford Bridge on a temporary basis, including Victor Moses, Juan Cuadrado and Mohamed Salah. The club has faced accusations of stockpiling talent. Emenalo said: “We have the difficult job of trying to balance being successful with making sure we have the right players at the right time.” Speaking to the club’s in-house TV station, the former Nigeria international added: “Sometimes we know there are players whose development is not finished, just like Victor [Moses], who we want to keep with our squad but who maybe needs to play more football to get to the level we think he can get to, because he is very, very talented.” Salah scored nine goals for loan club Fiorentina last season and Emenalo believes such success is a vindication of Chelsea’s policy. “These players go to top clubs and when they get there they prove we don’t recruit bad players, just like Salah did last season,” he said. Emenalo said that Cuadrado – a £23.3m signing from Fiorentina in February – had been allowed to join Juventus on loan in order “to go and rediscover his confidence”. “Sometimes the timing is not right for them,” he said.
Manchester United have opened contract talks with goalkeeper David De Gea. The Spaniard’s present deal expires in 2016 and United had previously indicated they had abandoned hope of the 24-year-old signing an extension. But following the collapse of a proposed move to Real Madrid on transfer deadline day, negotiations have begun, with De Gea’s agent Jorge Mendes attending the club’s training complex on Thursday. De Gea is yet to play this season. Manager Louis van Gaal refused to pick the former Atletico Madrid man until the end of the transfer window, such was the uncertainty surrounding his future. De Gea, United’s player of the season for the past two years, was upset at Van Gaal’s claim he did not want to play in the opening games of the season, although club sources have since indicated any damage to the pair’s relationship will be easily repaired.