Exit strategy

Luis Suarez has admitted he would find it hard to turn down a move to Real Madrid, insisting he is being victimised by the English press.

In a typically self-pitying interview with the Uruguayan radio station 890 Sport, Suárez said: “I love Liverpool, but if there is a chance of playing somewhere else … I suffered too much as a kid to get where I am to be attacked unfairly by the English press. They haven’t appreciated me as a player, they’ve just judged my attitude.

“I’m happy at Liverpool, I’m happy because of the fans. I made a mistake, I’m human, but [the press] talked about me in ways they shouldn’t have. My family have suffered and things got out of hand. My daughter and my wife have suffered. I’m not prepared to continue to put up with the English press.”

Because, as we know, it was the press that provoked Suarez to bite an opponent, to racially abuse another and to regularly attempt to maim many more. It’s difficult to know whether Suarez is guilty of confabulation, delusion, or just desperate to leave Liverpool. Probably all three.

On hearing that Suarez was unsettled in England, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez remarked: “Suarez is a great player and I am sure all in the world would want him. I like him and others too, but it does not always fit.”

Asked about Real, the Uruguayan said: “I’ve talked to my agent, there’s nothing concrete. To say no to Madrid would always be difficult and more so with the team they have. I have a contract with Liverpool, but it would be very difficult to say no to Real Madrid. There are a lot of rumours in the transfer period, but you never know until firm offers are made.

“I’ve talked to the coach [Rodgers], and he knows what I want. He was a player. Some of the players understand my situation – enough said.”

No idea where Suarez got the idea that Rodgers was a player from. The Liverpool manager retired at the age of 20 with a chronic knee problem which prevented him making his league debut for Reading.

Accident waiting to happen

Barcelona’s vice-president says Jose Mourinho’s expected move to English side Chelsea would be disastrous for English football.

The departing Real Madrid coach is widely predicted to return to Chelsea, where he previously led the club to two Premier League, one FA Cup and two League Cup titles during his three-year spell from 2004-07.

However, Carles Vilarrubi, the deputy boss at the Spanish side, feels Mourinho’s second stint in England could backfire.

“It is not good for English football. Chelsea maybe think they had a good time from him in the past. But you will see the real Mourinho now,” Vilarrubi told the Telegraph’s website. “If he behaves like he did in Spain it will only be an unhappy relationship. A disaster. And at his age he is not going to change.

“My position is not because he was the coach of a rival. But because of who he is and what he did. (During) his three years in Spain he only created disagreements, arguments, there is nothing positive he brings.

“You can learn good things about life from watching people in football, or the circus, or the opera. There was nothing he brought that was good. There was no positive balance. I cannot see anything good about him. Not one thing. In sporting terms, maybe I am not the person to ask. But in cultural terms, he was a disaster.

“Apart from his aggression to the coach of Barca, the ambience he creates everywhere he goes, the relations with the players, with the press are absolutely terrible. I am happy that he is leaving. And so is everyone in Spanish football.”

Spanish football’s loss… Having lost Sir Alex Ferguson and with Luis Suarez looking to be heading towards the exit door, there’s definitely a vacancy in English football for a cantankerous troublemaker whose relations with press and players are terrible. Indeed, if Suarez does join eventually Real, it’s almost a like-for-like swap.

Beware Greeks bearing gifts…

The president of Olympiakos Football Club is suing The Sun newspaper for more than £300,000 over claims he was facing criminal charges for bribery and match fixing.

Evangelos Marinakis claims an article, headlined “Arsenal’s rivals in a right old fix”, was defamatory and caused his reputation to be “seriously damaged”.

He said the article alleges he is facing prosecution for “being part of a criminal gang and participating in the offering of bribes as well as match-fixing”.

He also took issue with a picture caption saying: “TIED UP… Olympiakos owner Vangelis Marinakis is facing criminal charges”.

The article was published shortly before a Champions League match between the Greek club and Arsenal.

Marinakis says that the paper failed to publish an apology despite numerous letters sent by his solicitors to the paper between 1 and 19 October.

A Sun spokesman told Press Gazette: “The Sun stands by its article and a plea of justification has been put on the record.”

Goal of the day

Kevin Mirallas set Belgium on their way to a comfortable 4-2 win over the United States with a lovely, deft chip over Tim Howard.

Quote of the day

“Even though results haven’t been great, felt tactically England were maturing, but this is a step back to the dark ages of 2 lines of 4. Don’t like England playing this system. So easy to play against. Brazil will thrash us if we line up the same way. Predictable and dated.”

Gary Lineker gives a candid assessment of England’s shortcomings in the friendly international against Ireland.

Miss of the day

Great pass finds Alexandre Pato who rounds the Goiás goalkeeper before calmly slotting the ball into the…crowd.

Look familiar? Well, it was only a fortnight ago that Pato missed this wonderful chance in Corinthians Libertadores Cup defeat to Boca Juniors.

History repeats itself

Former England striker Teddy Sheringham is unlikely to be invited back to Hong Kong’s Soccer Sevens after a night on the town that brought back memories of the infamous dentist’s chair escapade of 1996. In fact, given his reputation in that part of the world, he may well soon become persona non grata throughout Hong Kong.

Sheringham, along with ex-Tottenham Hotspur winger Darren Anderton and former Leeds United striker Ian Baird, angered teammates and sponsors by failing to show up for an 8am match on Sunday.

A source said the trio had been on a drinking binge, with Anderton and Baird leaving around 4am, while Sheringham partied on.

The trio did not show up for the 8am match, leaving their CLA Discovery Bay team with “six-and-a-half players” because one of them was already injured.

“They have angered a lot of people,” the source said. “They are paid money to come here and should give some of it back.” The package included flights, accommodation and a daily allowance.

Sheringham said he injured his calf during a game on Saturday and was doubtful for Sunday.

One Discovery Bay player, former Hong Kong international Tim Bredbury, said he got a call yesterday from Beardsley, thanking him and other teammates for their efforts.

“I think he was slightly embarrassed,” Bredbury said.

A Professional Footballers’ Association official was at the tournament and apologised for their behaviour, Bredbury said.

The incident evokes memories of the infamous night out on the eve of the Euro 96 finals, when he, Paul Gascoigne and several England teammates poured spirits down their throats in a dentist’s chair at the China Jump bar in Hong Kong.

Offers over a billion euros

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has told Chelsea and Manchester United that Cristiano Ronaldo is not for sale, and says the Portugal captain will be offered the opportunity to sign a new deal with the club.

Ronaldo’s future as a Real Madrid player has been the subject of speculation for a number of months, and reports have claimed that both Chelsea and Manchester United are interested in acquiring his services during the summer transfer window.

Perez, however, has informed both Chelsea and Manchester United that Ronaldo is not available for transfer, even if either club were able to offer a gargantuan fee of €1 billion.

“I will do everything in my power to renew the contract. He has two years left on his contract, he is the best in the world and we would like to give a boost to the team with him as a leader and an emblem,” Perez told Marca.

“I would not sell him for 1,000million euros. We are not a selling club.

“He is a winner and he wants to win titles and Real Madrid is the right place for it.

“When he said he was sad, he talked to me and I told him I would do everything possible for him to be happy.”

€1 billion, you say? That sounds to me like the start of a bidding war between Monaco and Paris Saint-Germain.

Age shall not wither him…

UEFA president Michel Platini believes there is no will within FIFA to impose age and mandate limits on senior officials after a proposal to do so was dropped from FIFA’s Congress.

“President (Sepp) Blatter said that the reforms would be concluded at the 2013 Congress but now they are not,” Platini, 57, told journalists on Thursday, adding that the seven European members of FIFA’s 24-strong executive committee were unhappy that the proposal had been postponed.

“We have been speaking about this for two years,” Platini, who wants a limit on the number of terms elected officials can serve, as well as age limits, said after UEFA’s strategy meeting ahead of Friday’s Congress in Mauritius.

“The seven European members of the executive committee were not happy about the postponement.

“This is not UEFA that is stopping the reform; we are not blocking anything. The seven UEFA members did not want to postpone the decision.”

“Do you think there will be an agreement by next year? No there will not… because it concerns Blatter, it concerns people who are 83 years of age, these are the people who are the judge and the jury. It is clear why it has not gone to the Congress, I think we know that.”

The proposal, which is due to go back on the agenda next year, was part of Blatter’s not-so-wide-ranging reform process which began two years ago.

UEFA proposed that officials could serve until they were 72 and that the president’s term of office should be limited to 12 years in total.

However, there has been resistance to the idea from the other confederations and in a heated and at times angry executive committee debate on Tuesday the item was dropped from Friday’s agenda after being defeated by 16 votes to seven.

Blatter will be 79 when his current term as president ends in two years’ time and he has refused to rule out the possibility of running again in 2015. The man expected to stand against him, is of course the relatively youthful Platini.


Eric Abidal has confirmed he is to leave Barcelona after six years at the club.

The French defender, who fought back from liver cancer and a liver tumour and a liver transplant to play again, had hoped to be offered a new deal.

But he told a news conference on Thursday that his time at the Nou Camp would end when his current contract expires next month.

“I would have like to have stayed and played on at Barcelona but the club saw it differently and I have to respect their decision,” a tearful Abidal, who won 15 titles in his six seasons in Catalonia, said.

Barcelona president Sandro Rosell had said the door was open for Abidal to return and join the club’s technical staff when he finishes his playing career.

“I hope to return because it is a club (that is) very special to me,” Abidal added.

But Abidal, who will turn 34 in July, said that he had not intention of quitting just yet. He made his playing return from his liver transplant in April.

“Football for me is a passion since I was a child,” Abidal said. “I don’t see myself quitting now. I have made all this effort to come back to play football. My health is better now. When my body tells me to stop I will hang up the boots.

Abidal’s last game will be on Saturday against Málaga. “The most important thing right now is my last game,” he said. “Let’s see if my coach plays me and I can have some minutes.”