Balotelli reveals organised crime shock

Posted by admin on Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Manchester City striker Mario Balotelli has spoken of being "astonished and disappointed" to discover that a tour he was given of Naples was conducted by members of powerful organised crime syndicates.

Balotelli, 20, has hit the headlines this year as much for his off-pitch escapades as his performances for Manchester City on it and the latest story involving 'Super Mario' is regarding an unknowing encounter with Naples' renowned clans.

The Italy international has been named in a police report, which describes how he was shown around the city in June 2010 by members of powerful organised crime syndicates, namely Salvatore Silvestri of the Lo Russo clan and Biagio Esposito of the Scissionisti clan.

But Balotelli insists he was shocked to find out the identities and occupations of his tour guides.

"I had absolutely no idea who those people were," Balotelli said. "That day in Naples there were many people around me. I am astonished and disappointed, especially for the effect this news story could have on my family."

Balotelli walked around the notorious Scampia neighbourhood of Naples, but sources close to the player suggest he merely wanted to take in the places made famous by award-winning Italian film Gomorra, described on IMDb as "a contemporary Neapolitan mob drama that exposes Italy's criminal underbelly."

The former Inter Milan star's agent, Mino Raiola, has also - not for the first time this season - spoken out in defence of his client's actions.

"Balotelli has never had any rapport with organised crime," Raiola told Football Italia. "I will not confirm or deny he made this trip, because I don't know what actually happened.

"If, and I repeat if, Mario went to Scampia then it was because he was curious about these tragically famous areas. He certainly did not know that the people accompanying him were tied to the clans.

"There are many people around the world of football and it's impossible to know who everyone you talk to really is."
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Joorabchian: Tevez happy to stay

Posted by admin on Sunday, June 5, 2011

Carlos Tevez is content with life at Manchester City and is likely to stay if his family are happy to move there, according to agent Kia Joorabchian.

Tevez handed in a transfer request midway through the 2011-12 season amid reports that he was eager to leave England and be closer to his family who do not live with him, but later reversed that decision.

Despite being team captain and a key player in the team's surge towards Champions League football and the FA Cup, the Argentinean continued to be linked with a move abroad, either back home to Argentina or to Spain and many observers expected him to leave Eastlands this summer.

His representative Joorabchian has suggested that may not be the case, though, and believes the City skipper could yet remain.

"It's difficult to talk about offers. Carlos is a big player who will attract big clubs," he told Sky Sports News. "(But) he personally has had a very good season at City. He's happy with the current situation at City.

"He's sorted out his problems with the directors at City, that was sorted back in December. I think it all boils down to his family. If they feel comfortable about moving to Manchester then there's every chance he will stay at Manchester.

"He was one of first to join this project. He had ambitions to get City to the Champions League and win to win a trophy. He has helped them do that."
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Carrick out of England squad

Posted by admin on Thursday, June 2, 2011

Michael Carrick has withdrawn from the England squad to face Switzerland on Saturday after sustaining an injury during the Champions League final.

Carrick started Manchester United's 3-1 defeat to Barcelona at the weekend but was replaced by Paul Scholes on 77 minutes after sustaining a knock. It is thought to be a hip injury.

He joined up with the England camp on Monday evening but has been unable to train and, after further examination by the medical staff, he has been released from international duty to seek treatment at his club.

Fabio Capello will not call up a replacement for Carrick, with Jack Wilshere, Scott Parker and Frank Lampard expected to start the Euro 2012 qualifier at Wembley.

Jermain Defoe and David Stockdale have already withdrawn from the squad, with the latter replaced by Robert Green.
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Mancini reiterates need to spend

Posted by admin on Friday, May 27, 2011

After securing a place in next season's Champions League, Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini insists the club must strengthen their squad this summer in order to keep the pace on the continent and domestically.

Mancini, who guided City to their first silverware in 35 years by winning this year's FA Cup, has also suggested that City need to be more like illustrious cross-town rivals Manchester United, and will put that point forward at a meeting in Abu Dhabi with club chairman, Khaldoon Al Mubarak, on Tuesday.

"Look at Manchester United," Mancini told the Sun. "They can play 11 men in a Champions League semi-final and then change nearly all those players for the league game.

"We don't want to be like Tottenham who put all their energy into the Champions League and, after that, lost points in the league.

"We have improved 200% in one year but now we are being asked to play and beat the likes of Barcelona. City need to improve, we need to buy other good players and, on top of that, some young players who during the year can improve and come into the first team."

The meeting between Mancini and Al Mubarak is expected to revolve around the Italian's desire to bring stars such as Arsenal's Cesc Fabregas and Udinese front-man Alexis Sanchez to Eastlands. City reportedly have up to £120 million to spend on recruits before the new UEFA Financial Fair Play guidelines come into effect.

"If we want to lessen the gap between ourselves and the others we have only two months. Last year all the players got together late. I want all my players at the beginning of July ready to go for pre-season," Mancini said.

Meanwhile, Mancini has denied claims that he gave striker Mario Balotelli permission to return home early, with the enigmatic 20-year-old missing the club's FA Cup parade earlier this week.

Balotelli has been surrounded by controversy since joining from Inter Milan in 2010, and was allegedly caught by Italian television throwing water bombs at Serie A club chiefs whilst his team-mates were attending the parade in Manchester on Monday.
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Kompany shifts focus to league title

Posted by admin on Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany has vowed to get even closer to the Premier League title next year as supporters turned out in their thousands to acclaim their FA Cup winners.

At the end of a tumultuous campaign, City finished third in the table, nine points adrift of champions Manchester United, trailing runners-up Chelsea on goal difference alone.

It was good enough to secure a path straight through to the group stages of the Champions League, which added to the end of their 35-year trophy drought completed an outstanding season for Roberto Mancini and his men.

But Kompany knows more is expected next term and before a parade that started in Manchester city centre and ended with a massive firework display at Eastlands, the Belgium defender spelled out the way forward.

''We had a good season but the reality is we didn't finish champions, so there is obviously a gap between first place and second and third,'' he said. ''We will do everything we can to bridge that gap. If the club decides to buy it will make sense but hopefully this team will be stronger, regardless of that.''

Kompany certainly does not feel any sense of inferiority when he assesses City's strengths against those of their rivals.

''There has been very little in our games with United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham,'' he said. ''We will do better next season than this and the gap is going to get smaller.''
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Mancini calls for City to spend

Posted by admin on Monday, May 23, 2011

Roberto Mancini saw Manchester City clinch automatic qualification to the group stages of the Champions League and immediately demanded a fresh injection of cash.

Mancini has shelled out huge sums on star names like Yaya Toure, David Silva and Edin Dzeko since taking charge and the reward is a place in Europe's premier club competition and FA Cup glory.

The club's aim is Premier League and Champions League glory and Mancini has made it clear that only an injection of fresh quality will achieve that.

"We want to buy other players to improve because we need it," Mancini said. "In football you can spend a lot of money but you're not sure if you win.

"If you don't spend you won't win. Football is strange but if you buy good players and work hard you can win.

"It's been a fantastic season but now we have 40 days to buy players who can help us improve."
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Man City in for two Japan stars

Posted by admin on Sunday, May 22, 2011

Japan internationals Keisuke Honda and Yuki Abe are lined up as the first new signings of Manchester City's ambitions to win the Premier League title and take on Europe's elite in the Champions League.

Linked with all the world stars from Lionel Messi to Cristiano Ronaldo, Roberto Mancini's first global assault takes place with City broadening their global reach.

Honda is rated one of the best footballers Japan has produced. The forward made an impact in the World Cup finals, alongside Yuki Abe in midfield.

Honda is currently with CSKA Moscow, while his close friend Abe has already sampled life in England and the game in this country under Sven Goran Eriksson at Leicester City.

Even though there has been absolutely zero speculation about either Japanese stars, an ESPNsoccernet insider says: "The deals are under way, and expect both players to be at Eastlands."

Honda is a recognised global figure having come to the attention of Liverpool earlier in the season when Roy Hodgson was still manager. Honda been has linked with Arsenal since the World Cup, as well as AC Milan.

Honda started his career at Gamba Osaka, the same club as former Arsenal player Junichi Inamoto, before moving onto Nagoya Grampus Eight.

Yuki Abe moved from Urawa Red Diamonds to Leicester City but is now eager to join Honda at Eastlands. He played in all of Japan's World Cup games before they lost to Paraguay in the first knockout round.

He was the youngest ever to play in the J-League when he made his debut in August 1998 and played a vital role in Urawa wining the 2007 Asian Champions League. The 29-year-old has made 36 appearances for Leicester this season, scoring one goal.
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