Neymar on his way?

Barcelona have sealed a deal which would see Brazilian striker Neymar join the Spanish club in 2014, Cadena SER radio has reported.

The report claimed the Spanish and European champions have already paid a €14.5 million deposit of the total €58 million  transfer fee to the 20-year-old’s Brazilian club Santos.

“According to several reliable sources Barca have already paid a quarter of the 58 million euros to Santos to guarantee the transfer of the player,” Cadena SER claimed.

The report added that the decision was taken by the player and his father against the wishes of his agent Wagner Ribeiro.

The reliability of the report is open to question, given that it was only four months ago that Neymar had ‘sealed’ a move to Real Madrid.

Football’s rich list

France Football has published its annual list of the world’s best paid footballers and coaches and to no one’s great surprise, the highest earner in the sport is Barcelona’s Lionel Messi.

Messi’s earnings eclipse those of David Beckham, who still managed to rake in €31.5m, mainly from long established sponsorship deals.

Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho is the highest paid coach, earning €14.8m, which is slightly more than PSG boss Carlo Ancelotti. The inclusion in the top ten of China national coach, Jose Antonio Camacho, not to mention the presence in the players’ list of Guangzhou Evergrande’s Dario Conca, confirms the growing financial might of Asia.

Top 20 highest paid players in world football
1. Lionel Messi (Barcelona) €33m (per annum)
2. David Beckham (LA Galaxy) €31.5m
3. Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid) €29.2m
4. Samuel Eto’o (Anzhi Makhachkala) €23.3m
5. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United) €20.6m
6. Sergio Aguero (Manchester City) €18.8m
7. Yaya Toure (Manchester City) €17.6m
8. Fernando Torres (Chelsea) €16.7m
9. Kaka (Real Madrid) €15.5m
10. Phillip Lahm (Bayern Munich) €14.3m
11. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (AC Milan) €14m
12. Bastian Schweinsteiger (Bayern Munich) €13.9m
13. Neymar (Santos) €13.8m
14. Nicolas Anelka (Shanghai Shenhua) €13m
15. Frank Lamaprd (Chelsea) €12.9m
16. David Silva (Manchester City) €12.8m
17. Drogba (Chelsea) €12.6m
18. Dario Conca (Guangzhou Evergrande) €12.5m
19. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus) €11.7m,
20. Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) €11.6m

Top 10 highest paid coaches in world football
1. Jose Mourinho (Real Madrid) €14.8m
2. Carlo Ancelotti (PSG) €13.5m
3. Pep Guardiola (Barcelona) €9.5m
4. Arsene Wenger (Arsenal) €9m
5. Guus Hiddink (Anzhi Makhachkala) €8.6m
6. Fabio Capello (England, formerly) €8.5m
7. Sir Alex Ferguson (Manchester United) €8m,
8. Dick Advocaat (Russia) €7m
9. Jose Antonio Camacho (China) €6.1m
10. Roberto Mancini (Manchester City) €5.9m

Sacked coach worried about his safety

Sacked Ghana coach Goran Stevanovic has written to FIFA, to exert pressure on the Ghana Police and the Ghana FA to increase his security because he believes that his safety is under threat.

A letter signed by his lawyer, Zoran Andjic, and addressed to FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, alleged that the Serbian’s life is in danger as he remains in Ghana to finalise his compensation package.

“We are shocked, and scared and fearful for our safety and our lives, because vice president [of the GFA], Jordan Anagblah told us that from now on, no one can guarantee security of our client Goran Stevanovic on the territory of Ghana and that anything can happen to him and that they can’t prevent it,” the letter read in part.

It added: “We [plead with] you urgently to urge the GFA, the Ministry of Police [Interior] and the President of Ghana government, to guarantee the safety of our client Mr. Goran Stevanovic, because these things are against all statutes and regulations of the FIFA.”

The Serb was sacked on Monday after leading the Black Stars to a fourth-place finish at the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. Without wishing to tempt fate, it is surely worth noting that while Ghana regularly dispenses with its national coach (13 in the past decade), none of them have thus far come to any harm.

You’ll never walk down the aisle alone

There’s nothing like a classy wedding, and there was nothing classy about a Liverpool-themed wedding between two Singaporean supporters of the team.

The pair had met in 2001 at the official Singapore branch of the Liverpool supporters club, and thereafter their dates comprised watching Liverpool play every weekend. And if their relationship has survived ten years of that, then marriage should hold little fear.

Originally, they had intended for their big day to coincide with Liverpool winning the league title, but as the years went by and the pair approaching a pensionable age, the lovebirds opted for a compromise date to mark the club’s recent Carling Cup penalty shootout win over Championship side, Cardiff.

The wedding march was conducted – inevitably – to the tune of ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’, although the Singapore Kop gets a little confused towards the end when it bursts into West Ham’s anthem, ‘I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles’.


FIFA demands Brazil action

FIFA says the South American football confederation must “immediately” replace Ricardo Teixeira on its executive committee.

Teixeira resigned his FIFA seat on Monday for “personal reasons,” one week after leaving as president of Brazil’s football body and the 2014 World Cup organizing committee, citing unspecified health problems.

The 64-year-old Teixeira had two years left in the elected post he held since 1994.

CONMEBOL has three FIFA seats and traditionally elects one member from each of Brazil and Argentina.

The abrupt departure of Teixeira has been welcomed enthusiastically by many in Brazil, but as in the case of Jack Warner, who quit his football posts rather than face investigation and possible prosecution, there remains a sense of unfinished business. These days, it would appear that no one is held to account for their misdeeds.

Coincidentally, it was reported yesterday that Teixeira’s former father-in-law, Joao Havelange, had been admitted to hospital to receive treatment for an infection. The former FIFA president, who resigned his International Olympic Committee post at the end of last year, days before an ethics hearing into his conduct, has lived to the ripe old age of 95 insulated against allegations of corruption by virtue of his wealth, status and connections. Perhaps the best that we can hope for in the future is that the next generation of leaders are motivated less by a sense of greed and more by a sense of duty.

Ronaldo, a new broom?

One such person could be former Brazilian legend Ronaldo. Already a member of the local organizing committee of the 2014 finals, the two-time World Cup winner has confirmed his interest in becoming president of the country’s football federation.

“I would like to begin my political career in football. I want to become a football politician,” he was quoted as saying in an interview in Folha de Sao Paulo.

Teixeira, as mentioned earlier, led the Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) since 1989, before he stepped down this month. His 22-year leadership of CBF was marred by controversy, with repeated calls for his resignation amid allegations of corruption both at home and abroad.

His deputy Jose Maria Marin has taken over.

Ronaldo, who won the World Cup with Brazil in 2002, said he did not know whether he would be a candidate for the presidency but if the CBF asked him “I would accept”.

Goal of the day

Besiktas’ Portuguese midfielder Manuel Fernandes dribbled past three defenders before unleashing a thunderous strike in his side’s 4-1 win over Manisaspor.

Quote of the day

“We think that Udinese in the fight for a Champions League place can be a nuisance [to the other clubs]. In reality we are small side struggling with the metropolitan clubs. which have considerably more significance, so it is obvious that one could begin to think the worse.”

Dismayed at a decision that saw Diego Fabbrini dismissed against Napoli at the weekend, Udinese sporting director Fabrizio Larini wonders whether there a conspiracy against his side is afoot.

Indonesia chaos continues

Indonesia is hoping to avoid FIFA sanctions despite the country’s football bosses failing to resolve their ongoing power struggle.

Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) disciplinary commission chief Bernhard Limbong remains confident a solution can be reached to end the dispute.

FIFA had given the PSSI a deadline of March 20 to resolve the situation or face possible sanctioning.

Sunday’s congress failed to unite the two factions which are split by the PSSI-backed Premier League (IPL) and the Indonesian Football Saviour Committee (KPSI) backed Super League (ISL).

However, Limbong told Reuters he hoped the PSSI would avoid sanctions.

“We have followed FIFA’s order to hold a congress before March 20 and we did that,” Limbong said.

“We have also admitted Indonesia Super League, as well as Indonesia Premier League, under PSSI, which addressed FIFA’s statute to unite the breakaway league into one single league.”

“So for now we have two leagues working parallel for this season. If these leagues later disagree, we would dismiss both leagues and form a new competition, we can call it Indonesia’s pro league or something.”

“But we can’t do it now. We are still tied with broadcasting contract, players’ contracts.”

Despite the optimistic noises coming from Limbong, the situation on the ground remains far from clear.

The KPSI held their own elections at their congress in Jakarta on Sunday, with former PSSI executive committee member La Nyalla Mattalitti chosen as chairman.

The organisation claimed the 81 attendees who elected La Nyalla were official PSSI members with voting rights meaning the decision should be recognised by FIFA.

However, the PSSI disputed this claim, stating that their conference was attended by 94 of 97 legal voters.

La Nyalla, who was sacked from the PSSI executive committee in December, told the Jakarta Globe: “We will prove that the voters who attended this extraordinary meeting were the real ones, not those who attended the PSSI congress in Palangkaraya.”


Lionel Messi needs one goal to equal the Barcelona scoring record after Cesar Rodriguez’s total was revised to 232 from 235 by the La Liga club.

Barca and La Vanguardia conducted a joint study to verify Rodriguez’s tally from the 1950s.

The study showed he had scored three less than previously thought, Barca said in a statement on their website.

World Player of the Year Messi could break the record as early as tonight when Barca host Granada.

“After studying all of Cesar’s matches, it has been confirmed that Messi is only one goal behind,” Barca announced.

“It’s worth noting that Cesar Rodriguez is the club’s all-time top goalscorer in official matches, but the absolute record belongs to Paulino Alcantara, who scored 369 goals in 357 official and friendly matches.”

Rodriguez won five La Liga championships in 13 years with Barcelona.