Wednesday, 22 May 2013

PREMIER LEAGUE A NO-GO FOR LIONEL MESSI

ABOVE: Lionel Messi scored 56 goals this season
“
I've never thought about playing anywhere else
”
Lionel Messi
21st May 2013

By Jack Wilson

ENGLISH football fans dreaming of seeing Lionel Messi star in the Premier League have had their hopes dashed.

The Argentine magician, 25, has won four consecutive Ballon d'Or awards and is considered by many to be the greatest player to have graced the planet.

But the Barcelona ace, who joined the Catalan giants aged 13, has no intentions of leaving Spain.

Messi, speaking yesterday at a press conference in Qatar, said: "I've never thought about playing anywhere else."

The tricky frontman has scored 56 goals in 47 games this season to help Barca win their 22nd La Liga title

GAEL CLICHY STICKS KNIFE IN AXED ROBERTO MANCINI

ABOVE: Gael Clichy last night told axed City boss Roberto Mancini: You’ve only got yourself to blame
“
We have to be aware that he was probably at fault for this, but as players on the pitch we also have to take responsibility
”
Gael Clichy
22nd May 2013

By Steve Brenner

GAEL CLICHY last night told axed Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: You’ve only got yourself to blame.

The City left-back is the first Etihad star to talk about the demise of the Italian, who was dumped last week.

And he wasted no time in insisting Mancini can have no complaints about being booted out of City just a year after winning the Premier League title.

Splits in the dressing room spelled the end for Mancini, with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini waiting in the wings.

Clichy said: “He’s the manager and you have to take responsibility.

“The manager is there to make the choices. When results are good it’s down to the manager. When it’s not so good, it’s also down to him.

“We have to be aware that he was probably at fault for this, but as players on the pitch we also have to take responsibility.

“We didn’t perform whether we played three, four or six at the back. That doesn’t matter, you have to give 100 per cent and sometimes we didn’t give anything.”

The former Arsenal star, who has signed a new four-year deal, was a regular under Mancini.

He said: “For me it’s always difficult as obviously he brought me to the club. It’s a bit of a shock and if you look at his record it’s difficult to understand. He’s won trophies, the title after 44 years.

“Many people, particularly the fans, would have wanted to give him another go.”

City begin their USA tour with the future unclear. But Clichy reckons the new man will have a great chance of glory next season.

He added: “We can’t get worse than this year because we haven’t won anything but I really have a nice feeling for next season.

“When you see where the club is going, it has been progressing for the last five years.”

Chief executive Ferran Soriano said: “We don’t think we are under any instability. We are changing the manager, as happens in other clubs.”

City are certainly moving forward globally after announcing a ground-breaking deal with baseball giants the New York Yankees to create the MLS’s 20th club.

The deal, which could spiral to around £500m, will see New York City FC start from the 2015 season in a new stadium in Queens.

Gael Clichy was speaking at a Manchester City visit to Staten Island in New York, where City have donated football equipment to a local community group who are helping the island recover from Hurricane Sandy.

GUNNERS ARE READY TO FIRE - KIERAN GIBBS

ABOVE: Kieran Gibbs hopes Arsenal's form over the last few weeks is a sign of things to come
“
This dramatic finale makes us even stronger and we are going into next season head on
”
Kieran Gibbs
21st May 2013

By Ian Murtagh

KIERAN GIBBS celebrated Arsenal’s top-four finish and last night predicted: “This can be the start of something good.”

The 23-year-old defender hopes the Gunners’ form over the last few weeks, to overhaul Spurs, is a sign of things to come.

Arsenal picked up 26 points out of 30 to maintain their remarkable record under Arsene Wenger and the full-back is confident that in August, they can carry on where they have just left off.

“This dramatic finale makes us even stronger and we are going into next season head on,” said the England international, a key figure in the back line this term.

“We would have liked a better season but overall, you have to be happy with the way the team got together after December and showed character to come back and finish where we want to be.

“It’s been a test but in the end, we deserve to be in the top four.

“This club has done it for many seasons on the bounce now and although we’ve still got a play-off to get into the Champions League, it feels massive.”

Arsene Wenger’s side, who lost Robin van Persie last summer, were slated earlier this season as the weakest since he took charge in 1996.

But they have gradually improved and according to Gibbs, there’s a lot more to come.

He added: “We are a new-look side. New signings have had to come in and step up. As time went on, we started to get to know each other and to gel as a team.

“That was important and it stands us in good stead for next season.

“You’ve seen the quality and while we haven’t shown it consistently, there have been many glimpses of what this team is capable of.

“We’re desperate to get a trophy under our belts.”

Gibbs accepts that despite the joy at clinching fourth spot, that can’t be considered the ultimate prize for a club like Arsenal.

He said: “We were celebrating but the fact is we haven’t actually won anything. We are aware that we must produce next season.”

And Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis last night admitted: “It is important to reiterate that for everyone at the club, qualification for the Champions League is not our ultimate ambition.

“Our majority owner Mr Kroenke has made it clear that while it’s an achievement to make the Champions League, our ultimate objective is to win the major trophies.

“Arsene Wenger and I have already been planning what we need to do to strengthen so we are better placed next season.”

GAEL CLICHY STICKS KNIFE IN AXED ROBERTO MANCINI

ABOVE: Gael Clichy last night told axed City boss Roberto Mancini: You’ve only got yourself to blame
“
We have to be aware that he was probably at fault for this, but as players on the pitch we also have to take responsibility
”
Gael Clichy
22nd May 2013

By Steve Brenner

GAEL CLICHY last night told axed Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini: You’ve only got yourself to blame.

The City left-back is the first Etihad star to talk about the demise of the Italian, who was dumped last week.

And he wasted no time in insisting Mancini can have no complaints about being booted out of City just a year after winning the Premier League title.

Splits in the dressing room spelled the end for Mancini, with Malaga boss Manuel Pellegrini waiting in the wings.

Clichy said: “He’s the manager and you have to take responsibility.

“The manager is there to make the choices. When results are good it’s down to the manager. When it’s not so good, it’s also down to him.

“We have to be aware that he was probably at fault for this, but as players on the pitch we also have to take responsibility.

“We didn’t perform whether we played three, four or six at the back. That doesn’t matter, you have to give 100 per cent and sometimes we didn’t give anything.”

The former Arsenal star, who has signed a new four-year deal, was a regular under Mancini.

He said: “For me it’s always difficult as obviously he brought me to the club. It’s a bit of a shock and if you look at his record it’s difficult to understand. He’s won trophies, the title after 44 years.

“Many people, particularly the fans, would have wanted to give him another go.”

City begin their USA tour with the future unclear. But Clichy reckons the new man will have a great chance of glory next season.

He added: “We can’t get worse than this year because we haven’t won anything but I really have a nice feeling for next season.

“When you see where the club is going, it has been progressing for the last five years.”

Chief executive Ferran Soriano said: “We don’t think we are under any instability. We are changing the manager, as happens in other clubs.”

City are certainly moving forward globally after announcing a ground-breaking deal with baseball giants the New York Yankees to create the MLS’s 20th club.

The deal, which could spiral to around £500m, will see New York City FC start from the 2015 season in a new stadium in Queens.

Gael Clichy was speaking at a Manchester City visit to Staten Island in New York, where City have donated football equipment to a local community group who are helping the island recover from Hurricane Sandy.

CHELSEA ENGLAND PLAYERS IN EARLY RETURN

ABOVE: Gary Cahill revealed Chelsea's England internationals will leave the club's US tour early
22nd May 2013
Chelsea's England players will leave the post-season United States tour following the first of two friendlies with Manchester City, defender Gary Cahill has confirmed.

Midfielder Frank Lampard, left-back Ashley Cole and Cahill on Monday travelled to St Louis with Rafael Benitez's Europa League-winning squad and will be available for Thursday's friendly with City before returning to London to join up with England.

Cahill said on chelseafc.com: "We will train for the next couple of days and will be involved in the game on Thursday and then fly back on Friday."

The United States trip, which features a second friendly with City on Saturday in New York, comes at the end of Chelsea's 69-match season which saw them finish third in the Barclays Premier League and ahead of England matches with the Republic of Ireland and in Brazil.

"It's not stopped yet," added Cahill, who was absent for England duty in March with a knee injury.

"I finish totally on June 3 I think. I'm looking forward to the internationals because I missed the last ones with injury, but then looking forward to a rest at the end of what's been a long season."

Cahill reflected on a successful end to another tumultuous season at Stamford Bridge.

"I think you have to say we finished strongly," he said.

"We got the third position we were aiming for and achieved what we wanted there, and we finished with a trophy.

"We had ups and downs but like last year we finished well and we can be pleased."

WARD: COBRA'S VENOM WILL BE TOO STRONG

ABOVE: Andre Ward expects Carl Froch, pictured, to beat Mikkel Kessler
22nd May 2013
Carl Froch has been tipped to stop Mikkel Kessler in their eagerly awaited re-match by the only man who has beaten both fighters.

Froch goes into this weekend's showdown with Kessler for the WBA and IBF super-middleweight crowns at the O2 Arena seeking to avenge his first professional defeat at the hands of the Dane in 2010. The Nottingham brawler has since gone on to defeat world-class operators Arthur Abraham, Glen Johnson and Lucian Bute..

That success was preceded by the second points defeat of his career against Andre Ward, who also defeated Kessler in 2009 and is rumoured to fight the winner of Saturday's bout. But Ward told Boxing News magazine: "Carl Froch has been in some tough fights but I think he has more in the tank,"

He added: "I think Kessler has kind of dipped a little bit since he and I fought, and even since he fought Froch the first time. Even though it's going to be a tough fight, it's going to be back and forth, I can't see Kessler winning this.

"Kessler's last two performances, he hasn't fought the best guys - a shopworn Allan Green then Brian Magee, who's very tough but limited - and he's going to look good against them but I don't know if he has the same fire as when he fought Froch the first time.

"I would be shocked if Kessler got his hand raised. I think Froch wins and I wouldn't be surprised if Froch caught and stopped him."

WARNER HIT WITH MAXIMUM FINE

ABOVE: David Warner admitted that his tweets were 'inappropriate'
22nd May 2013
Australia batsman David Warner has been hit with the maximum fine available after pleading guilty to breaching the Cricket Australia Code of Behaviour.

Warner, who is set to play a key role in the ICC Champions Trophy and the following Ashes series in England, posted unsavoury comments on Twitter toward journalists Robert Craddock and Malcolm Conn after taking exception to the former's article over the Indian Premier League.

Warner was subsequently reported by Cricket Australia for breaching Rule 6: Unbecoming Behaviour and was fined 5,750 Australian dollars (£3,700), the maximum financial penalty for a first-time offender, at the hearing on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old said: "In hindsight, clearly I let my frustrations get the better of me and posted some inappropriate tweets last weekend.

"While I disagreed with the story and my image being used alongside the story, I could have chosen my words better and I apologise for any offence that my language may have caused.

"I'll continue to have honest conversations with all my followers and I will be mindful of the language I use in future."

BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH: 'I LENT MORE THAN MY VOICE TO THE HOBBIT ROLES'

22nd May 2013
BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH resents reports suggesting he simply lent his voice to play the dragon Smaug in the forthcoming THE HOBBIT sequel because he had to put in hours of work with motion-capture technology to bring the character to life.

The Star Trek Into Darkness actor actually takes on double duty in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, portraying the titular, gold-hoarding dragon and the ruler The Necromancer, and although his physical likeness doesn't appear onscreen, his bodily movements do, thanks to the same technology his co-star Andy Serkis uses to play Gollum..
And Cumberbatch is keen to make it clear he didn't just sit in a sound booth to read his lines.
He tells New York Magazine, "It was publicised that I 'voice' Smaug, and I thought, 'F**king hell. My voice, my motions - I worked my a** off to create that dragon!'"
The Desolation of Smaug, the second installment in director Peter Jackson's The Hobbit trilogy, is due to hit theatres in December (13).

ASHLEY TISDALE OBTAINS RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST ALLEGED STALKER

22nd May 2013
Actress ASHLEY TISDALE has been granted a temporary restraining order against an overzealous male fan amid fears the devotee will gun her down.

The High School Musical star claims Nicholas Fiore has been harassing her since last year (12) and has bombarded her with more than 18,000 messages via Twitter.com.
She recently turned to Los Angeles police to investigate the matter, and she decided to file legal papers herself in Los Angeles County Superior Court in a bid to keep Fiore away.
In the documents, Tisdale reveals some of the tweets have featured song lyrics that reference guns, and the 27 year old has interpreted the lines as threats against her life and that of her boyfriend, musician Christopher French.
She also alleges that Fiore has twice turned up outside her property and once attempted to gain access to her home by posing as a delivery man, reports TMZ.com.
She stated, "If an immediate order is not granted... (Fiore) will attempt to cause or cause severe bodily harm to myself and my boyfriend."
Tisdale's request for a protective order was approved last week (ends17May13), but the judge only agreed to impose a ban of 100 yards (91.4 metres) on Fiore, instead of the 5,000 yards (4572 metres) she had asked for.
A hearing into the matter has been set for 5 June (13), when it will be determined if the order should be made permanent.

STAR TREK SCREENWRITER REGRETS ALICE EVE UNDERWEAR SCENE

22nd May 2013
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS screenwriter DAMON LINDELOF regrets putting ALICE EVE's gratuitous underwear scene into the sci-fi blockbuster.

Fans have been flocking to catch the latest installment of the franchise, but were left baffled when the actress' character, weapon specialist Dr. Carol Marcus, strips down to her bra and panties.
Critics accused Lindelof and director J.J. Abrams of misogyny, and the screenwriter has now admitted he was wrong to have penned that part of the script.
Taking to Twitter.com, he writes, "I copped to the fact that we should have done a better job of not being gratuitous in our representation of a barely clothed actress. We also had Kirk (Chris Pine) shirtless in underpants in both movies. Do not want to make light of something that some construe as mysogenistic (sic).
"What I'm saying is I hear you, I take responsibility and will be more mindful in the future. Also, I need to learn how to spell 'misogynistic'."

WILL SMITH IS IN TOO DEEP

ABOVE: He might be a man of many talents but Will Smith is no Olympic swimmer
22nd May 2013

By Jessica Brown with Ed Dyson

WILL Smith can’t swim.

The Men In Black actor, 44, admitted: “In inner city Philadelphia, there’s not a lot of swimming pools and I never actually learnt how to swim and I’m embarrassed about it.

“I’m not scared of the water, I can get in – just as long as my feet can touch the bottom.”

So we won’t be expecting to see you in a Jaws remake any time soon then, Will?

JAMIE CULLUM BRINGS LONDON RAILWAY STATION TO A STANDSTILL

22nd May 2013
Jazz star JAMIE CULLUM treated commuters to a show-stopping performance at one of London's busiest railway stations on Tuesday (21May13).

The singer took advantage of the free piano at St Pancras International by playing a set with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in front of hordes of travellers.
Cullum played new track Momentum from his latest album, and admitted he had always wanted to have a go on the station's piano.
He says, "I'm in and out of St Pancras a lot. There is a piano in the station and I've seen a lot of busking here. I've always walked past it and thought, 'I fancy playing on that'.
"I thrive on the live performance, the spontaneous vibe. This kind of thing suits me well. We hadn't rehearsed with the orchestra at all - but they are a crack team of musicians. We hope we sent travellers on with a song in their hearts."

KE$HA SLAMMED OVER URINE-DRINKING STUNT

22nd May 2013
KE$HA is facing a backlash from officials at America's Parent Television Council (PTC) after footage of her drinking her own urine was shown on TV.

The TiK ToK hitmaker was caught on camera guzzling her pee on Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, which aired on MTV in the U.S. on Tuesday (21May13).
Campaigners at the PTC are fuming over the "disgusting, vile" scene, and are now demanding cable TV providers allow customers to have control over the content which enters their homes.
A statement from PTC President Tim Winter reads, "If given the opportunity, I can't imagine that parents would want to pay for a cable network that airs an episode of a pop star drinking her own urine...
"Why should we have to pay for this kind of garbage just so we can get access to (other networks bundled with MTV) Discovery, Disney, or the Golf Channel? It's outrageous - and it shouldn't be that way. Consumers deserve choice. We should all have the ability to choose and pay for only the channels we want to watch."

REAL MADRID WANT BALE NOW

ABOVE: Real Madrid are determined to get Gareth Bale
“
There is a five-year deal on the table for Bale, which guarantees to match whatever wages he would earn at White Hart Lane
”

REAL MADRID are ready to blow Tottenham out of the water in a bid to sign Gareth Bale this summer.

The Welsh wonder has been offered a new deal to stay at Spurs worth around £150,000 a week.

It also contains a clause allowing him to leave next summer for £50m. But that does not matter to Madrid president Florentino Perez, who wants Bale NOW.

He will offer him even more money to join the Spanish giants. There is a five-year deal on the table for Bale, which
guarantees to match whatever wages he would earn at White Hart Lane.

But it also includes a lucrative image rights deal which would earn him even more millions.

However, Real insist they will not pay more than £43m, way below Tottenham’s valuation of the double Player of the Year.

Madrid have offered Spurs four players as potential makeweights in the deal – Pepe, Marcello, Gonzalo Higuain and Angel di Maria.

The only player Tottenham are interested in is striker Higuain and he does not want to leave the Bernabeu for a club which is not playing in the Champions League.

That has not put off Real, who still remember how Spurs chairman Daniel Levy insisted he would not sell Luka Modric to them, but eventually caved in.

Napoli president reveals talks have begun with Manchester City over Edison Cavani and Edin Dzeko swap deal

Napoli president reveals talks have begun with Manchester City over Edison Cavani and Edin Dzeko swap deal

City bound: Edinson Cavani is on his way to the Premier League (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
City bound: Edinson Cavani is on his way to the Premier League (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)
Manchester City appear set to beat Chelsea to the signing of Edison Cavani with Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis admitting negotiations have begun over a deal that could include Edin Dzeko heading in the opposite direction.
De Laurentiis was in England with the Italians’ sporting director Riccardo Bigon and managing director Andrea Chiavelli for meetings on Monday.
It was suggested that the delegation were in London to try and persuade outgoing Chelsea manager Rafael Benitez to become Napoli’s new head coach.
However, De Laurentiis rejected this notion and instead revealed that talks over a possible deal to exchange Cavani for Dzeko plus cash had taken place.
Pointing the way: But is Dzeko destined for pastures new? (Picture: Getty Images)
Pointing the way: But is Dzeko destined for pastures new? (Picture: Getty Images)
‘I did not go to London for Benitez,’ he said. ‘Yesterday I was in London with (managing director Andrea) Chiavelli and Bigon and for a simple reason: I have to prepare for the release of the film about Steve Jobs.
‘However, I told Bigon, ‘Go to City and take the chance to negotiate over Dzeko and see what they are willing to do for Cavani’.’
Uruguayan striker Cavani, 26, is one of the hottest properties in Europe having scored 36 goals in 41 appearances this season.
Chelsea had appeared to be winning the race but the lure of the unwanted Dzeko in return looks to have swung things back in City’s favour

Carlton Cole to leave West Ham after seven seasons


West Ham striker Carlton Cole

Carlton Cole to leave West Ham after seven seasons

Striker Carlton Cole will leave West Ham United this summer after the club decided not to renew his contract.
The 29-year-old has spent seven seasons at Upton Park but struggled for form in 2012-13, scoring only twice.
Cole's future at the club appeared in doubt as the club have agreed a fee to sign Andy Carroll on a permanent deal.
West Ham manager Sam Allardyce said: "Carlton's need at his age is to be playing football as often as he can. We felt it better he found pastures new."

Cole's West Ham years

  • Appearances: 237
  • Goals: 59
  • England caps: seven
  • Cole scored the opening goal in West Ham's Championship play-off final victory over Blackpool in 2012.
  • 2012-13 appearances/goals: 29/2
Cole, who has seven England caps, joined West Ham from Chelsea in 2006.
His last goal for the club was in a home defeat by Everton last December and he indicated on Tuesday on Twitter that he would be looking for a new club.
He said:  "Life is filled with ups and downs - today is a down but I'll be back! Carlton Cole has left the building.
"I came to east London not knowing what to expect but I'm glad I did. The last 7 years I've met a lot of good honest decent people. Thank you."
His departure was confirmed on the club's official website  on Wednesday.
West Ham's joint chairman David Gold tweeted:  "Good luck @CarltonCole1 - one of the nicest men I've ever met in football."
Meanwhile, the club have announced they are still in talks with midfielder Gary O'Neil, 30, over a new deal.
Allardyce said: "For Gary, negotiations are ongoing and that will be done between the chairmen and his agent now."

As it turns 100, Aston Martin gives itself a gift

Why is red carpet fashion so over-the-top?


Andy Murray pulls out of French Open with back injury


Andy Murray

Andy Murray pulls out of French Open with back injury

Andy Murray has withdrawn from the French Open with the back injury that forced him out in Italy last week.
Britain's world number two retired in his first match in Rome and has opted against playing on the Paris clay.
Murray will hope to be fit for the start of the grass-court season at Queen's Club on 10 June.
"It's been a really tough decision, and I love playing in Paris, but after seeking medical advice I'm not fit to compete," said the US Open champion.

Murray's French Open record

  • 2012 - Quarter-final
  • 2011 - Semi-final
  • 2010 - 4th round
  • 2009 - Quarter-finals
  • 2008 - 3rd round
  • 2007 - DNP
  • 2006 - 1st round
"Apologies to the organisers and thanks to everyone for the messages of support. Now my complete focus is on getting back on the court as soon as possible."
It will be the first Grand Slam tournament Murray has missed since Wimbledon in 2007.
The French Open, the second Grand Slam of the year, starts at Roland Garros on Sunday.
Murray looked troubled throughout his match with Marcel Granollers on his 26th birthday in Rome. He withdrew with a lower-back problem after winning a tie-break to square the match at one set all.
At the time the Scot said he would be "very surprised" if he would be fit for the French Open.
His only previous mid-match retirement coincidentally came on his 20th birthday, when he snapped a tendon in his wrist at the 2007 Hamburg Masters.

Analysis

"There is something about the way of playing on a clay court, the extra sliding, the extra rotation of the body, the harder ground-strokes to push the ball through the surface, which is clearly having an impact.
"For Murray to protect the body for the long term, he has to take wise and precautious decisions like the one he's taken."
That was the most serious injury Murray has suffered and led to him missing both the French Open and Wimbledon.
Murray struggled with a lower-back problem throughout the clay season last year. One match against Jarkko Nieminen during the French Open prompted former Wimbledon champion Virginia Wade to call him a "drama queen".
He had injections before Wimbledon but said the problem returned in Madrid two weeks ago and did not improve with rest.
"Until Madrid, it had been OK but it's not been perfect for a long period," Murray said at the Italian Open. "You always go into matches with little niggles and such, but it's frustrating when for a long period you're hurting.
"It's been an issue for a while now and I want to make sure it goes away. It's not enjoyable when you're playing in pain."
Murray reached the Roland Garros quarter-finals last year, losing to David Ferrer, before reaching his first Wimbledon final, winning Olympic gold back at SW19, and clinching his first Grand Slam at the US Open.

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Perez: Mourinho wasn't sacked

Florentino Perez (AFP)Madrid - Real Madrid president, Florentino Perez has said that Jose Mourinho was not sacked, after he confirmed Mourinho's exit from the club at the end of the season.

Perez denied the suggestion that the Portuguese-born coach was relieved of his duties by the club alone at the media conference where the announcement was made.

"No one has sacked anyone, it has been a mutual agreement," Perez said.

"It is not nice for anyone to have to leave but it is also true that after three years we both decided it was the right moment to break this relationship."

Mourinho's time in charge of the nine-time European champions has been littered with high profile bust-ups with the local media and many of his stellar squad of world class players.

Perez went onto hail his demanding standards throughout his time in charge.

"He is a very demanding coach, with himself and with the rest and this wears you down," he said.

Mourinho joined the Spanish giants in 2010 and signed a four-year contract with them, winning the King's Cup in his first season at the club.
A year ago, Real won their first La Liga title for four years, smashing league records along the way and ending Barcelona's domestic dominance. He became the fourth coach, after Tomislav Ivic, Ernst Happel, and Giovanni Trapattoni, to have won league titles in at least four different countries: Portugal, England, Italy, and Spain.
Mourinho then stated that he was motivated by the challenges ahead at Real Madrid and agreed a two-year contract extension which tied him to the club until 2016.
Perez also confirmed that he had approached Paris St Germain to ask about the availability of Carlo Ancelotti.
Ancelotti was reported as saying that he wants to leave the newly-crowned French league champions, which fueled speculation that he was to join Real, to replace Mourinho, who was already widely rumoured to be on his way out of Spain.

"I have asked the club to leave (PSG) and I am waiting for their answer because I am under contract," confirmed Ancelotti, who also guided PSG to the quarterfinals of the European Champions League.
PSG's president Nasser al Khelaifi confirmed Real's approach, but stated that he has no plans to release Ancelotti.
"They (Real) came and I discussed it with them. He's got a contract with us for one more year...for me, he's here next year," Al Khelaifi was reported as saying last week.
Al Khelaifi then went into greater detail late last week, saying that Madrid's interest in Ancelloti was more serious than what was initially anticipated.
"I think he signed a pre-contract with Real Madrid, but I can't imagine Real Madrid will make him sign an agreement or there will be a problem in law," he told Al-Jazeera.

Insurgents fight with Libyan weapons – Army

ABUJA — The troops deployed to flush out Boko Haram insurgents from Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states, yesterday, encountered intense resistance from sect members who were armed with sophisticated weapons from Libya.
This came as the National Assembly, yesterday, endorsed the proclamation of a state of emergency in the three states by President Goodluck Jonathan.
A senior military official told The Guardian of London that “they (Islamist militants) have been putting up fierce resistance and they are very, very well-armed with weapons from Libya.”  He said most of the militants who have waged a bloody four-year battle to create an Islamist state had scattered across the semi-desert borders.
Officers of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) patrolling  in Maiduguri in a sweeping offensive against Boko Haram militants.  AFP PHOTO/
Officers of the Joint Military Task Force (JTF) patrolling in Maiduguri in a sweeping offensive against Boko Haram militants.
AFP PHOTO/
A renewed military campaign, including aerial bombardments of Boko Haram training camps in the three states declared under emergency rule this month, has led to the capture of almost 200 militants and the death of dozens in a week, according to the military. In one raid, a helicopter gunship was hit by anti-aircraft and anti-tank fire, a military source said.
However, a resident of the besieged states said:“It’s only by the goodwill of soldiers and by virtue of my position that I was able to leave the city. All the entry points to and from Maiduguri are blocked by the military but they let me through.”
Outside the city walls, he said, trucks carrying food and market produce were lined up awaiting entrance.
“We have been used to seeing soldiers and checkpoints for the past two years in Maiduguri, but it is having a real impact on the economic activity,” he added.
In Maiduguri, where militants are deeply enmeshed in the population, soldiers carrying out house-to-house searches after placing a 24-hour curfew in some neighbourhoods discovered stockpiles of weapons including rocket-propelled grenades, a defence spokesperson said.

Achebe remains arrive, begins final journey


AT 6. 00am yesterday, the remains of 82-year-old Nigeria’s literary icon Chinua Achebe, who died in a Boston hospital arrived Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja from his US-base. The body was released by government officials led by the Secretary to the Federal Government, Chief Anyim Pius Ayim.
Also at the airport to receive the casket draped in the National colours of green, white and green were his first son, Dr. Ike Achebe, Governor Peter Obi of Anambra State, Minister of Power, Professor Chinedu Nebo and former governor of Abia State, Ogbonnaya Onu, former FCT minister, Chief Chuka Odom, former Minister of State for Education, Dr. Jerry Agada, former House of Representatives member, Dr. Wale Okediran, chairman of the Achebe National Transition Committee, Prof. Uzodinma Nwala, traditional rulers and leaders of Igbo communities, including those from his Ogidi community, and writers.
The casket, carried by pall bearers in traditional Igbo attires was ushered into the reception hall of the domestic wing of the airport in a procession led by Rt. Rev Owen Nwokolo who, in a brief sermon, prayed for the repose of Achebe’s soul saying, “We are gathered to say nno (welcome) to Achebe. He has come back, though dead but we know that his works keep him alive. We are gathered to receive him because of what he has accomplished throughout the world.”
He praised the departed literary icon for his exemplary and transparent life and called on Nigerians to learn from Achebe’s transparency and selflessness.
Also speaking, Senator Pius Anyim, extolled the virtues of Achebe and said his death was a terrible loss to Nigeria and urged the family of the author to bear it with strength.
Anglican priest Owen Nwokolo prays in front of the coffin bearing the body of late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe upon arrival at Abuja airport, on May 21, 2013. The body of Achebe, the author of internationally acclaimed novel "Things Fall Apart" and a towering figure in African literature, arrived in Abuja two months after his death in a US hospital. He is due to be buried in his native town of Ogidi on May 23, 2013. AFP PHOTO/PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Anglican priest Owen Nwokolo prays in front of the coffin bearing the body of late Nigerian writer Chinua Achebe upon arrival at Abuja airport. AFP PHOTO
The body was accompanied by Achebe’s wife, Prof. Christie Achebe, his children Chidi, Chinelo, Nwando and her husband.
Dr. Ike Achebe, the first son of Achebe expressed his appreciation for the support his family has received since his father’s death on March 21.
He said: “I want to appreciate everyone that has worked tirelessly to ensure that the transition is peaceful. I thank you all”.
After the airport reception, the casket was ushered into a smaller plane, escorted by Achebe’s widow and other dignitaries for onward flight to Enugu where a reception was also held in his honour at the University of Nigeria, UNN, Enugu campus.
UNN formally declares Achebe absent at Senate; pays tributes
At the senate session held in his honour late Achebe was formally declared absent having confirmed his demise by sighting his corpse which laid in-state at the Enugu campus of the university.
The senate and indeed the entire university community paid glowing tribute to Professor Achebe whose demise, they said, would leave a void in the hearts of people and the University of Nigeria where he is revered as a great academic and administrator.
Professors, Associate Professors, Senior lecturers, and other scholars, draped in their flowing academic gowns, filed past the casket wrapped with national flag bearing the remains of the late author of Things Fall Apart.
The remains of the departed literary icon, Professor Chinua Achebe arrived Enugu at  12.35pm yesterday. A private aircraft belonging to Overland Nigeria marked 5N-BPE brought the dark brown casket wrapped with dark blue lace to the Akanu Ibiam International Airport, Enugu from Abuja.
Professor Christie Achebe, his widow, children and Engr Austin Achebe, his elder brother and leader of the Achebe family were among personalities on ground at the airport to receive his corpse.
A dark Mercedes Benz R500 belonging to M.I.C funeral undertakers conveyed the casket to the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus and a special Senate session was held in his honour presided over by the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Bartho Okolo and attended by other scholars. The event which was attended by members of Achebe’s family and his associates in Enugu State commenced at 3: 45pm and ended 6pm.
“We are gathered for the purpose of paying our last respect to Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe,” Prof Okolo told the large audience drawn mainly from the university community.
During the special Senate, there was a long roll call of all the professors who are members of the senate. All of them answered their names but when Achebe’s name was called severally, everywhere was dead silent without Achebe responding.
“Dear colleagues, it is unlike Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe, our revered man of letters, the literary giant, the Eagle on Iroko, to stay silent at the mention of his name,” Okolo said.
After formally announcing the passing of Achebe, the Vice Chancellor said: “For the avoidance of doubt, may I call his name one more time: Emeritus Professor Chinua Achebe! (still no response). Truly, this is a solemn confirmation that the earthly sojourn of our revered colleague, Emeritus Professor Chinualumogu Albert Achebe, our compatriot who rose to become a citizen of the world has come to an end. It is, therefore, with profound grief and regret that I preside over this special senate in his honour.”
Okolo described the late icon as “a truly distinguished academic of international status and one of the finest academics that the University of Nigeria has ever produced.” He added that Achebe was one of the best creative minds of the present generation, stressing that the late writer told the story of Africa in over 50 different languages.
“In doing so, he brought various aspects of the political history and socio-political existence of Nigeria to the attention of the world,” he said, adding that “Achebe will be remembered as a remarkable teacher, an astute administrator, creative genius, a story teller and author of extra-ordinary ability.”
The UNN VC said Achebe, during his life time, enjoyed a larger than life image as a world renowned literary giant, adding that in addition to his winning many literary awards, “his creative works, which often had prophetic undertones, drew world attention to African literature.”
However, at the end of the session, the motorcade bearing Achebe’s remains left Enugu for Awka where another funeral would take place in his home state, Anambra ahead of his internment at his Nkwelle Ogidi hometown in Idemili Local Government Area tomorrow.

Crooks manipulated Nigeria’s Evidence Act for 40 years – Farida Waziri

Crooks manipulated Nigeria’s Evidence Act for 40 years – Farida Waziri

ABUJA—Immediate past chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mrs. Farida Waziri, yesterday ,lamented the fact that Nigeria was still operating  under archaic laws.
She alleged that for over 40 years, the Evidence Act was left to manipulations by crooked persons.
Mrs Waziri, who presided over the public presentation of a book on law of evidence in Nigeria, authored by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Chief Sebastian Hon, in Abuja, said she was particularly happy that the National Assembly finally took courage and amended section 84(1) and (2) of the Evidence Act.
According to her, this has paved way for the admissibility of electronically generated evidence in court.
Farida Waziri
Farida Waziri
Reiterating her call for the establishment of a special court to handle financial crimes, Farida, implored Nigerian politicians to purge themselves of corruption and uncanny quest for materialism.
“Sometimes, I really wonder why people will build houses they don’t even need,” Mrs. Waziri said.
Besides, she said Nigerians should not vilify Justice Abubakar Talba of an Abuja High Court who had on January 28, ordered a self-confessed pension thief, Mr John Yakubu Yusufu, to pay a paltry sum of N750,000, despite admitting before the court that he conspired with six other civil servants and stole N23 billion from the Police Pension Fund.
Farida contended that rather than condemn the judge, it was high time Nigerians realized the need for a holistic review of the nation’s criminal justice system vis-à-vis the existing laws.
It will be recalled that Justice Talba had relied on the provision of section 309 of the Criminal Procedure Code, CPC, upon which the EFCC charged the former deputy director of pensions, Yusufu, and convicted him to two years imprisonment on 3-count charge, though with a fine option of N250, 000 for each of the count.
Though the former EFCC boss faulted Justice Talba on the premise that he failed to exercise his discretion judiciously and judicially, she,  however,  stressed that unless a holistic amendment was effected on our existing laws, such ugly incidents would continue to crop up.

Human parts on SALE

Human parts available: Live human, N40,000; head, N8,000; hands, N4,000

LAGOS—Emotions ran high, Tuesday, at Lagos State Police Command, Ikeja, following startling revelations by suspected members of three syndicates, who specialised in selling human parts to herbalists and persons suspected to be clerics.
The suspects told a bewildered crowd that human heads were sold for N8,000; hands, N4,000 and private parts N10,000.
DEALERS: Fatai Akinwowo, herbalist (left) and alleged suppliers of human parts. On the ground are suspected mixture of ground human head and local gin in a bottle alongside a human finger, allegedly recovered from the suspects.
DEALERS: Fatai Akinwowo, herbalist (left) and alleged suppliers of human parts. On the ground are suspected mixture of ground human head and local gin in a bottle alongside a human finger, allegedly recovered from the suspects.
One of them, Agboola Kolawole, who blamed his indulgence on poverty and inability to pay his children’s school fees, disclosed that he had so far sold four heads of his deceased siblings to a herbalist, who in turn sold to some persons they identified simply as Alhajis.
The Alhajis, as gathered, offered to pay one of the suspects N40,000 to get a live human being, only for the suspect, Sanni Kazeem, to be apprehended during his search for prey.
Recovered from one of the arrested herbalists, identified as Ajibade Rafiu (40), who the suspects said they supply with the human parts, was a dried human finger suspected to be that of a lady, and a concoction, which he said was made from ground human head mixed with local gin.
The concoction, according to Rafiu, was to fortify him against spiritual attack.
Arrest, confession
Their arrest, according to the Command’s spokesperson, Ngozi Braide, followed a tip-off from the officer-in-charge of the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, Ikeja, Abba Kyari, that one of the suspects, Jamiu Adeleke, was at the verge of selling a human hand for N21,000.
The operatives, according to Braide, who paraded the suspects before newsmen, stormed Owode town, Ogun State, where Adeleke was arrested while attempting to sell the human hand to a buyer.
She said: “Adeleke confessed that one Sanni Kazeem sold it to him for N6,000. When Sanni was arrested, he also confessed to the crime, adding that he had supplied two human heads to a dealer named Akinwowo Fatai (30), who was also arrested.
Akinwowo, on his part, confessed to have received the human heads and another four human heads from another supplier, one Agboola Kolawole (40), who was later arrested in the same Owode town.”
Sources of ‘goods’
“Kolawole confessed that he cut the heads of his two late brothers and two late sisters buried in private graves in their compound and sold them for N8,000 each. The final buyer/receiver, one Ajibade Rafiu (30), a herbalist, was also arrested.
“During interrogation, the suppliers said they got their human parts from various grave yards in Ogun State, while the middlemen doubled the prices and sell to the herbalist, who is the end user.
“Sanni Kazeem also confessed that two popular Alhajis in the same Owode town had bought one head from him before and also requested for a live human being for N40,000.”
She added that the first suspect arrested, Adeleke, jumped out of a moving vehicle in his attempt to escape and sustained fatal injuries, which later resulted in his death, adding that effort was still on to arrest others indicted in the business.
‘Am in it for school fees’
One of the suspects, Agboola Kolawole, said: “Yes, I sold my dead siblings parts for N8,000 each. I was tempted to do that because of poverty and inability to pay my children’s school fees.
“Just as I was thinking of how to pay their school fees, a friend approached me and asked why I should be suffering when there was a way out. When I asked how, he said I should go and get some human parts that he would pay me.
“That was how I went to my late brother’s grave at night, exhumed the bodies of two of them and cut off the heads.
“When I took them to the friend, he gave me N16,000 and told me to get him four hands. This time around, I went to my late sisters graves and cut off their hands. I was paid N8,000 for a set of hands.”
‘I was offered N40,000 to get a human being’
Kazeem Sanni said he usually went to cemeteries to exhume dead bodies and cut off the needed parts.
He said: “The cemetery I usually frequent is CMS. I usually go there at night when the guards would have slept.
“I sell skull for N8,000 to Alpha Jamiu (Muslim cleric). So far, I have gone to the cemetery thrice to cut off human parts.
“Two weeks ago, he called to say that his clients needed a human being, promising to pay me N40,000. When I asked him how that was possible, he said he would give me a charm that would hypnotise the victim to facilitate his/her abduction.
“I told him I would think about it. But I never went back to him again because I felt I could not do that.”
However, it was gathered that Alpha Jamiu, the middleman, pays the supplier N8,000 but sells the parts thrice the amount to end users.
The herbalist, Ajibade Rafiu, told journalists that he bought a human head for N8,000, with an intention to prepare a fortification concoction for himself.
He said: “I burnt the human head and later ground it, poured it inside a plastic and added local gin and other roots. I prepared the concoction for myself.
“It is to fortify me against any attack because in this job if you are not fortified people may attempt to throw spiritual arrows at you. But with this, if anybody tries it, it will backfire.
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