End of the saga

Providing there are no last minute hitches, Cesc Fabregas will become a Barcelona player later today. The midfielder is currently undergoing a medical, after which he is expected to be unveiled at Camp Nou.

The reported fee is a bargain basement£30 million, which to offer some perspective, values the World Cup winner at less than Andy Carroll. Whether this figure reflects the Spaniard’s true value is open to debate, although Barcelona setting his buy-out fee at £175 million, gives you an idea of what they think he is worth.

Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, admitted that he he didn’t want to lose the player, but was powerless to prevent him leaving. The club’s preparations for the new season would have been a lot less stressful had he acknowledged this several months ago.

“We understand Cesc’s desire to move to his home-town club and have now accepted an offer from Barcelona,” he said. “We have been clear that we didn’t want Cesc to leave and that remains the case.

It’s all in the genes

It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that Johan Cruyff’s son Jordi was starting to make his way as a professional footballer, and now, it’s the turn of Cruyff’s grandson, Jessua, to make a name for himself by signing for Wigan.

The 17-year-old defender, who plays on the left, is the son of former Barcelona youth goalkeeper Jesus Angoy, who is married to Dutch legend Cruyff’s daughter.

Coincidentally, or not, Wigan boss Roberto Martinez and Jordi Cruyff have been friends since they were teenagers and Martinez is the godfather to the former Dutch international’s children.

Goal of the day

David Villa’s curling effort from the edge of the penalty area, helped Barcelona to a 2-2 draw against arch-rivals, Real Madrid, in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup.

Welcome to England

After getting his first taste of the Premier League on Sunday it’s fair to say that English football may be something of an acquired taste for the new Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.

A trip to Stoke City is arguably the quintessential English football experience, in that moments of excitement occasionally punctuate the chaos. It was certainly an illuminating experience for Villas-Boas.

“The amount of pushing and grabbing in the box is out of this world,” Villas-Boas said after the goalless draw. “I want to draw the referees’ attention to these kind of details as they say they are going to be aware of them. Maybe they need extra help. Stoke didn’t push the boundaries of fair play. But they pushed the boundaries on shoving and grabbing.”

Don’t worry Andre, you’ll soon get used to it.

Swiss roll over

The Swiss FA have bowed to pressure from FIFA that threatened to kick Sion, Basel and Zurich out of Europe this week over a registration dispute involving six Sion signings. The Swiss national side were also threatened with expulsion from the European Championships over the row.

Sion and the Swiss authorities had become involved in civil action which saw club president Christian Constantin threaten a £16m legal action if the row cost his side a place in next season’s Champions League.

FIFA and UEFA both insist that football matters are dealt with internally rather than through the civil courts.

China crisis

China have appointed Spaniard Jose Antonio Camacho as their new national coach.

Chinese Football Association (CFA) head Wei Di says the appointment of Camacho is part of a long-term strategy to help the nation catch up with neighbours Japan and South Korea.

“Compared with our neighbors Japan and South Korea, Chinese football is lagging far behind,” Wei said. 

”We need to work with a long-term view and start to catch up with a pragmatic approach.”

Camacho will be looking to emulate Bora Milutinovic, who, in 2002, became the only person to have guided China to the World Cup finals. His appointment drew a negative responses from fans in China who believe the money spent on Camacho’s salary (reputedly €3million a year), would have been better utilised on revamping the league system.

” I will meet enormous expectations from Chinese fans and the Chinese society after taking over the team,” Camacho said. 

”Pressure to me is something beautiful. For me and my crew, our short-term goal is to lead China to qualify for the World Cup, but this is a very complicated mission.”

When Pepe met Dani

I’m not sure what Daniel Alves has done to annoy Pepe, but the Brazilian was once again on the receiving end of a ‘clumsy’ challenge from the Madrid defender during yesterday’s Super Cup first leg.

The last time the pair met, this happened:


In the build up to the opening day of the Premier League season there was much talk about the need for respect from players and managers. Well, clearly no one tweeted that message to Joey Barton. The Newcastle United midfielder was at the centre of another controversy (that line was typed using predictive text) on Saturday when he collapsed theatrically after receiving a gentle slap on the face by Arsenal striker Gervinho.

Explaining his drop to the floor, Barton admitted: “I did go down easily, I’ve been hit harder by people at school, but that’s not to make what he did right. He raised his hands, we all know the rules about that. I have made a meal of it.”

Barton was furious at what he thought was a dive in the penalty area by Gervinho. The midfielder has subsequently reviewed the footage and acknowledged that there was some contact, but he believed it wasn’t enough to warrant a penalty.

Barton said he would be “embarrassed” if a Newcastle player did the same thing. In which case, I dread to think what he’d make of his own reaction to Gervinho’s pat.

Keane to go to the USA

Tottenham striker Robbie Keane is set for a surprise move to MLS side LA Galaxy.

The Republic of Ireland striker, who is unwanted at White Hart Lane, appears to have persuaded MLS that what they really need if they’re to be taken seriously, is a 31-year-old striker whose best days are behind him and who no one wants. Will they never learn?

When quizzed on the striker joining the MLS side, Los Angeles coach Bruce Arena refused to elaborate.

“We have no comments at this time on any player moves,” Arena said. “We’re hoping to have some stuff to announce in the next 24 to 48 hours,” he told ESPN.

Keane’s arrival could spell the departure of Juan Pablo Angel; the Colombian forward, is the lowest profile of the Galaxy’s three Designated Players – the others being David Beckham and Landon Donovan. If Keane does join, expect a name change to the LA Egos.


Worrying times for Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, whose father has been kidnapped in Nigeria. Mikel’s father Michael was seized on Friday but the player insisted on playing in his club’s Premier League opener at Stoke.

In a statement, Mikel’s representatives Sport Entertainment and Media Group said: “SEM confirms that client John Obi Mikel’s father was abducted in Nigeria on Friday, August 10. Thus far no ransom (demand) has been received. Mikel was informed by his manager prior to the Stoke v Chelsea match and decided to play so as not to let down his team and family.”

Mikel’s agent John Ola Shittu praised his client for the character he showed in turning out against Stoke.

“He is totally devastated. We were not sure whether to tell him before the game,” he told KickOffNigeria.com. “He was under a lot of stress but he showed a lot of character and mental strength to play against Stoke.”

Indeed he did.