Claudio Ranieri has refuted Arsene Wenger’s claims that the Leicester manager has never beaten his Arsenal side, reminding the Frenchman of Chelsea’s Champions League defeat of their London rivals back in 2004. Wayne Bridge scored a late winner to send Chelsea, who Ranieri managed from 2000-04, through to the semi-finals to face a Monaco side that eventually finished runners-up to champions Porto. Wenger’s remark came as his Arsenal side prepare to welcome Leicester to the Emirates at the weekend, a game that the Gunners will be aiming to win to close the gap on the league leaders. And Ranieri admitted he will remind Wenger of his victory nearly 12 years ago before kick-off on Super Sunday. “The last time I met him I won 2-1 in the Champions League quarter-final with Chelsea,” he said. “He forgot, but I remember. “I will tell him on Sunday. I remember what I want to remember.”
Former FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke has been banned from all football-related activity for 12 years. The decision has been made by FIFA’s independent ethics committee following allegations of potential misconduct related to sales of World Cup tickets. Valcke has also been fined 100,000 Swiss francs. A statement from FIFA’s Ethics Committee said: “The adjudicatory chamber found that a sports marketing firm had gained an undue advantage from the selling of World Cup tickets. Not only did Mr Valcke do nothing to stop these activities, he encouraged the persons responsible to do so.” The statement added that Valcke had “travelled at FIFA’s expense purely for sightseeing reasons” and by doing so had “acted against FIFA’s best interests and caused considerable financial damage to FIFA”.
Italy’s World Cup-winning captain Fabio Cannavaro has been sacked as manager of Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr after just four months in charge. Cannavaro won six of 14 games as boss, and leaves the defending champions sixth in the Saudi Pro League, 18 points behind leaders Al Hilal. It was his second managerial role after a seven-month spell at Chinese side Guangzhou Evergrande. Ex-defender Cannavaro, 42, led Italy to a fifth World Cup triumph in 2006. In his club career he played most notably for Parma, Juventus and Real Madrid. He won the UEFA Cup and two Coppa Italia trophies with Parma, while also collecting two La Liga titles while at Madrid and the 2006 Ballon d’Or.
Hoffenheim have made Julian Nagelsmann the youngest manager in German Bundesliga history after appointing the 28-year-old as their new manager. The under-19s coach succeeds Huub Stevens, 62, who resigned on Wednesday because of ill health. Nagelsmann was due to take charge next season but will now manage the league strugglers with immediate effect following “intensive talks”. He has signed a three-year deal with the club through to June 2019. Hoffenheim are currently five points off the relegation play-off place and seven points from safety. What a bold step! Nigeria’s Chinedu Obasi once played for Hoffenheim.
Chelsea striker Diego Costa has suffered a broken nose but remains in contention to face Newcastle on Saturday. Costa suffered the injury while challenging for a header with an academy player, who was brought in to train with the first team, according to Blues manager Guus Hiddink. The 27-year-old Spain international will be fitted with a mask and return to light training later on Friday before meeting up with his team-mates ahead of Saturday’s game against Newcastle at Stamford Bridge.
Lionel Messi has been named Spain’s La Liga Player of the Month for January – the first time he has won the monthly award. The award has been given out since the beginning of the 2013/14 Primera Division season, but the five-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner had not won it until now. The Barcelona forward finally came out on top at the 23rd time of asking, after scoring six goals in as many league games in January. Messi struck a hat-trick against Granada as well as scoring in victories over Athletic Bilbao, Malaga and Atletico Madrid to take his total of league goals for the season to 12. Remarkably, Messi is only the second Barcelona player to win the award, following Neymar’s success in November. Cristiano Ronaldo has landed the gong twice since it began in September 2013, as have Atletico pair Diego Godin and Antoine Griezmann and Real Sociedad striker Carlos Vela.
Ex-Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue is training with Sunderland in a a bid to prove his fitness and earn a contract with the Black Cats. The former Arsenal right-back is a free agent after being released by Turkish side Galatasaray last summer, and is currently training with the Black Cats. Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce was looking to recruit a right-back in the January transfer window to provide competition for Billy Jones and the inexperienced on-loan Spurs man DeAndre Yedlin, but a loan move for Arsenal’s ex-Newcastle United defender Mathieu Debuchy fell through. And now Big Sam is running the rule over 32-year-old Ivory Coast international Eboue as he continues to looks to strengthen in that area. “It’s a possibility,” he said.