Every picture tells a story

Neymar has dismissed claims of diving from Uruguay captain Diego Lugano.

The Barcelona forward was unhappy with comments made by Lugano prior to Wednesday’s Confederations Cup semi-final between the two teams.

“He who has a mouth speaks what he wants. This will not hurt me. What matters to me most is to help my teammates and the team win,” Neymar said after the match.

Let’s put that one to bed once and for all shall we; here’s the Brazilian in action during yesterday’s game.

In demand

Carlos Tevez has completed his dream move to Juventus. It was always the dream of his agent that his client should play for the Italian champions? Tevez? He just goes where he is told.

The player’s agent, Kia Joorabchian, claims that the Argentine striker turned down a number of other clubs before deciding to join Juventus. But, realistically, has Tevez ever gone anywhere without first checking that it was in the best interests of his agent? Probably not.

Speaking to Corriere dello Sport, Joorabchian said: “Carlitos wanted Juventus and I’m sorry if AC Milan are angry for this.

“Anzhi wanted him too and there he would have earned much more.

“But he pointed to a club with a great history, rich traditions and of course with important ambitions and projects.

“There was also the Monaco (interest), with which we met and we talked about, but in the end Carlitos has chosen Juventus.”

Milan were also interested in signing Tevez, but the Argentinian claims that Juventus wanted him more.

“I’m really happy to be here at Juve,” Tevez told Sky Sport Italia.

”It’s a really big satisfaction for me. I will tell the rest in the press conference – but Juventus wanted me more than Milan.”

‘Wanted me’ is a euphemism for ‘offered me more’ money’.

Money, money, money

In a break with convention that will rock die-hard traditionalists to their core, next season’s Italian Super Cup will be played in…Rome. Of all places.

The annual money-making fixture between the league and cup winners of Serie A, which for the past two seasons and three of the last four, has been staged in Beijing, will revert to the Italian capital after the two teams, Juventus and Lazio, failed to reach agreement over money. Which is ironic when one considers that the only reason the match has been pimped out in recent years is money.

The match was originally scheduled to be played in Beijing but Serie A champions Juventus refused to travel and Lazio turned down alternative venues including Toronto.

 The Serie A Assembly agreed to a Lazio request that they should be awarded 1.8 million euros from the match, the sum they would have expected from going to Beijing, while Juventus, who declined to go to China, would get any remaining revenue.

Juve lodged an immediate appeal against that decision.

One can only assume that all those lawyers don’t come cheap.

Goal of the day

Beautifully flighted free-kick by Giorgian De Arrascaeta puts Uruguay 1-0 up against New Zealand in the Under-20 World Cup.

Quote of the day

“I cried, suffered, felt bad and had nights where I slept little, if at all. I am a Madridista through and through, and before everyone else – coaches, presidents, directors of football, even myself – the club always comes first.”

Iker Casillas relives the misery of being dropped at Real Madrid by former coach Jose Mourinho.

Charity case?

Andrei Arshavin has rejoined former club Zenit St Petersburg after being released by Arsenal at the end of last season.

Arshavin made 144 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 31 goals in his five seasons at the club, but failed to live up to his billing following a £15 million move from Zenit in 2009 and spent part of the 2011-12 season on loan at the Russian club.

Last season was more or less a washout for the former captain of the Russian national side. Arshavin did not start one Premier League match all season, with his most notable contribution to the campaign being a drunken row he had doorman who’d refused him entry to a nightclub.

The 32-year-old has signed a two-year contract with Zenit, in what can only be described as an act of charity by the Russian club.

“One of Russia’s best football players of the last decade is returning to his hometown,” Zenit said in a statement on their official website (www.fc-zenit.ru)

“Zenit football club welcomes the return to Andrei Arshavin to St Petersburg and wishes the athlete new success in the squad.”

Wonder how long it will be before that optimism wears off.

Hearts not broken

Hearts have denied claims that club sponsors Wonga.com have handed them a £1m advance to help them fight their battle against administration.

Reports today suggested that the pay-day loans company had made the “significant” gesture after discussions with BDO, the accountancy firm now running the Tynecastle club.

But it is understood the cash injection is substantially less than the quoted figure, with a club source confirming that the amount was a “significant five-figure sum”.

Manager Gary Locke said: “It’s great that one of our main sponsors has shown they are willing to back the football club.

“But contrary to reports, it is nowhere near the figure that has been suggested.

“I have to reiterate to our supporters get down and buy your season tickets because we do still have a long way to go.

“The support we have had from the fans has been nothing short of incredible but we need to get the message out there that [the Wonga money] is not the figure people have been suggesting.

“It’s a great help to us, don’t get me wrong, but we do need as much money coming into us as we can.”

Hearts need to raise £750,000 to keep the club afloat until the start of the new season. Bearing in mind that Wonga’s interest rate on loans is 4,217%, Hearts are going to need significantly more than that by the time the new season comes around.

To compound matters, the club will start the season with minus 15 points and are banned from registering new players.

Moreover, the current squad players are still waiting to be paid their June salaries with no indication if they will ever appear.

Missing in action

According to reports in Russia, Anzhi Makhachkala have made a €35 million offer for Shakhtar Dontesk’s midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Izvestiya claims Mkhitaryan met with the representatives of the club in Yerevan several days after World Cup qualifying matches. However, the 24-year-old player did not reveal to them whether he would he fancied the move.

Earlier Anzhi representatives reached a verbal arrangement with Shakhtar on a fee. The problem now is finding Mkhitaryan, who failed to turn up for training in Austria earlier this week.

Champagne Charlie

Champagne Taittinger has secured ‘official Champagne’ status for its brand at next year’s FIFA World Cup football tournament.

The company fonformed that it has signed a sponsorship deal with FIFA that will run until the end of 2015. The tie-up, for an undisclosed sum, will see Taittinger boast the title of ‘official FIFA Champagne’ at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The brand is also the official Champagne for FIFA’s Confederations Cup, which is running this month, also in Brazil.

“Champagne Taittinger will manifest its presence at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in the months to come through various initiatives with the help of its 150 distributors around the world,” the company said.

Given the recent turmoil in Brazil and the evident anger at the money being spent on hosting next year’s finals, perhaps now was not the time to announce the official champagne of the World Cup.


Lillestrom fans are furious after a photo of the statue of club legend Tom Lund which sits at the entrance to their stadium  showed that Lund had been “decapitated” by unknown vandals.

The supporters have accused fans of rivals Valerenga of being responsible for the beheading, with the two teams set to meet in the Tippeligaen.

Kenneth Kvebæk, head of Lillestrom’s supporters group, said: “One does not have to be Sherlock Holmes to understand who has done this. It just adds to the ranks of low-brow behavior from the Valerenga ultras.

“That they would sink so low, I had never imagined. Vålerenga celebrate their 100th anniversary this year. It’s a hundred years of shame.”