Manchester City have loaned new signing Anthony Caceres to sister club Melbourne City for the rest of the A-League season. Manuel Pellegrini’s side signed the 23-year-old midfielder last week from Central Coast Mariners for an undisclosed fee. The transfer has caused some consternation in Australia, where A-League clubs are not permitted to sign players for a fee from each other. But Caceres’ move to Manchester City has allowed Melbourne to recruit one of the most highly-sought-after players in the division. Sydney FC chief executive Tony Pignata called for a review of the rules and wrote on Twitter: “The loaning of Caceres to City is wrong.”
Gareth Bale has suffered his third calf muscle injury of the season, Real Madrid have confirmed. Bale, 26, limped off shortly before half-time during Real’s 5-1 La Liga win at home to Sporting Gijon on Sunday. The Welshman, who scored his 13th goal of the season when he opened the scoring in the seventh minute, is expected to be out for three weeks. “He has been diagnosed with a soleus (calf) muscle injury in his right leg,” Real said on their website. “His recovery will continue to be assessed.”
Watford have signed keeper Costel Pantilimon from Sunderland on a three-and-a-half-year deal. It one of those undisclosed fee jobbies for the 6ft 8in stopper, who made the last of his 18 outings for the Black Cats when they were beaten 3-1 by Chelsea on 19 December.
Norwich have signed striker Steven Naismith from Everton on a three-and-a-half-year deal for an undisclosed fee. “I’m very happy to have signed because now I can concentrate on the football side of things,” said the 29-year-old. “Norwich have displayed class in the way they’ve done their business all the way through. They’ve shown how much they wanted me, which is great, and I’m delighted to be here.”
Former Arsenal and Chelsea left-back Ashley Cole’s contract with Italian club Roma has been cancelled by mutual consent. The 35-year-old joined the Serie A side in July 2014 and has been strongly linked with a move to MLS side LA Galaxy.
Michel Platini will be paid his salary by UEFA “until further notice” despite having been banned from football-related activity for eight years. The confirmation comes after it was revealed that outgoing FIFA president Sepp Blatter, who has also been banned, will receive his salary from world football’s governing body until the election of his successor on 26 February. A UEFA statement said: “Mr Platini is receiving a salary from UEFA, and will continue to do so until further notice. Individual salaries are of a confidential nature and therefore are not disclosed.”
Arsenal defender Nacho Monreal has committed his future to the club after signing a new long-term contract. Arsenal signed Nacho Monreal from Malaga in January 2013 and he has featured in all of Arsenal’s 22 Premier League matches this season, keeping Kieran Gibbs out of the side. Hear him: “I’m really happy because my intention was to keep playing for Arsenal. I feel really good playing here. “I have a good relationship with my team-mates and we keep improving year after year. I would like to play here for many more years. “I’m very happy with my performances this season. At the beginning it was difficult because I was a new signing and I didn’t speak English. “But now I feel more comfortable with my team-mates and with everything in general so that has helped me to play better because I have more confidence in myself.”
Ex-AC Milan youth team player Yusupha Yaffa is facing fraud charges in Italy after claiming to be a full nine years younger than he actually is. The striker was believed to be a teenager, but it turns out he might actually be closer to 30. Yaffa, who left the Rossoneri for Germany earlier this season, gave the wrong age to the club and Italian immigration officials when he arrived. He should now be just 19, but apparently the age on his Facebook profile is 28. The Gambian is said to have claimed he was born on 31st December 1996, when his alleged real birthday is 14th November 1987. Age fraud and accusations of it can be all too common in African football – Lazio teenager Joseph Minala can testify to that after he was falsely accused of being in his forties. Yaffa is blaming his situation on losing his passport multiple times.
Former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant has signed for Singapore side Tampines Rovers. It is a one-year deal and media reports suggest it could be worth about Sg$40,000 a month, which would make him the highest-paid player in the S-League’s 21-year history. “I don’t look at it as a lesser league, it’s just another chapter in my career,” said Pennant, 33. He has been a free agent since a spell with Wigan last season.
Sepp Blatter is still receiving his salary as president of FIFA despite being suspended and subsequently banned from football for eight years. A spokesman for FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee told BBC that Blatter will continue to be paid until a new president is elected on February 26. FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Committee has decided it will stop Blatter’s bonuses being paid to him but not, due to his contract, his salary. The bonuses could be stopped because Blatter was not in a position to supervise FIFA.
Johanna Konta outclassed eighth seed Venus Williams 6-4 6-2 to reach the second round of the Australian Open. Britain’s number one, 24, raced to victory in 79 minutes as seven-time Grand Slam champion Williams, her left thigh heavily strapped, struggled. Konta denied that 35-year-old Williams’ age had anything to do with the American’s laboured display. “It’s irrelevant how old she is because she’s such a champion with so much experience and knowledge,” said Konta. “Even if she’s playing with one leg out there, you’ve got to really take care of things on your own because she’s an incredible player. I have all the respect for her in the world.”
Rafael Nadal suffered the only first-round exit of his career at the Australian Open after Fernando Verdasco recorded a stunning five-set win. The Spanish left-handers produced an exhibition of hard-hitting in a match which spanned four hours and 40 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena. Verdasco saved a break point to prevent going 3-0 down in the decider, going on to win 7-6 (8-6) 4-6 3-6 7-6 (4-7) 6-2. The world number 45 hit 90 winners and meets Israel’s Dudi Sela in round two.
Watford have signed Morocco forward Nordin Amrabat from Spanish side Malaga. Amrabat, 28, was on loan at the La Liga club last season before signing a permanent deal and has made 15 appearances this term. Born in the Netherlands, he was capped at under-21 level before playing 23 times for Morocco. “He has the qualities of the players we like,” said Hornets manager Quique Sanchez Flores.“He can play at number 10; he holds the ball, he can turn quickly with the strength of a striker and escape the defensive line.”
Nemanja Vidic has had his Inter Milan contract cancelled after failing to make an appearance this season. The 34-year-old former Serbia defender joined Serie A side Inter on a free transfer from Manchester United in 2014 and played 28 times last season. “Thanks to all the Nerazzurro family and to the Inter fans. I wish the club all the best for the future,” he said. Vidic won five Premier League titles and the 2007-08 Champions League in his eight and a half years at Old Trafford.
Norwich have signed Switzerland defender Timm Klose from German side Wolfsburg for an undisclosed fee. Klose, 27, joins the Canaries on a three-and-a-half-year deal having made 39 appearances in all competitions for the Bundesliga club. “As a player, he’s got good technical ability and he’s solid in the air,” said Norwich manager Alex Neil. Klose is the Premier League team’s fourth January signing after Matt Jarvis, Ivo Pinto and Ben Godfrey. Centre-back Klose featured for Wolfsburg in the 3-2 Champions League victory over Manchester United in December, and also played for Switzerland in their Euro 2016 qualifiers against England. “It was always a dream to play in the Premier League and Norwich have given me a big chance,” he said. “Now I want to give everything I can to be a good player in this league.”