Essien Agrees New Five-Year Chelsea Deal

Chelsea midfielder Michael Essien has signed a new five-year deal at Stamford Bridge.

The Ghana international, currently in China on the club's pre-season tour, is therefore contracted to the club until 2013.

Essien's commitment follows yesterday's confirmation that goalkeeper Petr Cech had signed a new five-year deal.

Essien, who signed from Lyon for around £24million in 2005, said: 'I am really pleased to have extended my contract with Chelsea.

'I am very happy here. We have a great team and fantastic fans who have always made me welcome.

'With the addition of the new manager (Luiz Felipe Scolari), I am feeling very positive about the season ahead.'

Scolari, who took over from Avram Grant recently, was pleased to tie Essien down amid continued speculation about the future of fellow midfielder Frank Lampard.

'I have not been here long but it is clear to me that Michael Essien is one of the best midfield players in the world,' he said.

'I have always admired him and it is good news for me and for Chelsea that he signs for so long.'

Left-back Wayne Bridge also signed a new deal earlier this week.

This article was taken from: Soccernet.espn.go.com

AC Milan Deny Receiving Bids For Kaka

AC Milan have denied receiving a 150million euros offer from Chelsea or any other club for Kaka.

The Brazilian playmaker is rumoured to be a top target of the London outfit but the Rossoneri are adamant they will not sell their star player.

'The offers for Kaka are only in the newspapers and they make up stories,' club vice-president Adriano Galliani told the club's official website.

'Today there are talks of a 150million euros offer and tomorrow it will be 200.

'Nothing is true, neither from Chelsea nor from any other club have we received that kind of offer.'

Galliani admitted holding talks with Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich earlier this summer and inquiring about the possibility to bring Chelsea striker Andriy Shevchenko back to the San Siro this summer.

'It is true that I was on Abramovich's boat,' said Galliani. 'It's true that he has had me as his guest and that I asked him for Shevchenko and he asked me for Kaka.

'But it finished 0-0 as we told him no for Ricky (Kaka) and they said no for Andriy.

'In any case there was no mention of numbers. Hence, I don't know where the figures read in the newspapers come from.

'We have a great relationship with Chelsea from a human level, but that doesn't mean they will say yes for Sheva and we will say yes for Kaka. I believe Kaka is happy at Milan.'

Galliani's denials come on the back of a similar response from Chelsea chief executive Peter Kenyon, who yesterday said the club had made no offer for Kaka, and were instead focusing on Real Madrid's Robinho.

This article was taken from: Soccernet.espn.go.com

Chelsea Deny Making Bid For Barca's Eto'o

Chelsea have denied making a bid for Barcelona striker Samuel Eto'o despite claims from the Cameroon international he has received offers from the Blues, Tottenham and Inter Milan.

The 27-year-old, who is currently in Scotland with Barcelona, told Corriere dello Sport yesterday he has received a 'few important offers. Which ones? Chelsea, Tottenham and Inter.'

But Chelsea sources, who are currently with the club in China as part of the Blues' pre-season tour, denied making an offer for Eto'o.

A club spokesman said: 'We deny making a bid or any offer for Eto'o.'

Eto'o's agent, Jose Maria Mesalles, also refused to rule out the possibility of the former Real Mallorca striker remaining at the Nou Camp despite speculation over his future.

After arriving in southern China yesterday ahead of tomorrow's pre-season opener against Chinese Super League outfit Guangzhou Pharmaceutical, chief executive Peter Kenyon also ruled out a move for AC Milan playmaker Kaka, while revealing discussions with Real Madrid over fellow Brazilian Robinho were ongoing.

Portugal duo Deco and Jose Boswinga have already arrived at Stamford Bridge this summer, while veteran French midfielder Claude Makelele and Dutch defender Khalid Boulahrouz departed for Paris St Germain and VfB Stuttgart respectively yesterday.

This article was taken from: Soccernet.espn.go.com

Ronaldinho goes to San Siro (AC Milan)

MILAN, Italy (AP) - The news conference was called to show off Ronaldinho, AC Milan's new star, before the Brazilian star had his name or his number on the team's red-and-black jersey. Ronaldinho didn't even have a contract yet.
Ronaldinho enjoys the festivities during his official Milan unveiling. (Giuseppe Cacace / Getty Images)
So Thursday night's presentation at Meazza Stadium began a few minutes late and was hastily turned into a signing ceremony.
"Put your signature here," Milan vice president Adriano Galliani told Ronaldinho, as they sat side-by-side in front of TV cameras, and the player took pen in hand and signed the papers.
Galliani told reporters that right down to Thursday night "there were all kinds of problems," the Italian news agency Apcom reported. "It got down into the nitty-gritty, such as the rating of the bank giving the guarantee" for the transaction to acquire Ronaldinho from FC Barcelona.
Even before he signed, Ronaldinho, speaking in Portuguese, told the news conference that "I already feel home here."
"It's a really special moment," the player said. "Everyone wants to be on this team for the importance of Milan's history. Putting on this jersey is already a victor for me," Ronaldinho said.
AC Milan is aiming for a quick rebound, back to the top of European football, now that Ronaldinho has joined Kaka and Alexandre Pato in an all-Brazilian attack.
Milan finished a dismal fifth in Serie A last season and was eliminated by Arsenal in the second round of the Champions League. This season, Milan will play in the second-tier UEFA Cup.
Ronaldinho told reporters that while his time with the Spanish club "had been very positive, with great victories, at a certain point the championship titles weren't coming any more, there were disappointments and displeasure, and thus the time came to part ways."
"Here I can go back to being happy and to reaching new personal and team objectives," he said.
2008 Summer Transfers

Ronaldinho scored 91 goals in 200 appearances in five seasons at Barcelona, and helped lead the club to consecutive Spanish league titles in 2005 and '06, and the Champions League trophy in 2006.
After he signed, Ronaldinho stepped onto the field to the cheers of fans, who attended the presentation for free.
The Rossoneri won the Champions League in 2003 and 2007, and lost the 2005 final to Liverpool.
Barcelona said AC Milan will pay €21 million (US$33.6 million) for Ronaldinho and an additional €4 million (US$6.4 million) if the Italian club clinches a place in the 2009-10 Champions League.
The transfer amount was considerably less than the €32 million that Barcelona said Manchester City had offered.
AC Milan owner and Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi has said Ronaldinho is "worth" the money
News from: Associated Press

Mourinho ready for Lampard pursuit to go down to the wire

By: David Hytner

Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho

Frank Lampard enjoyed great success with former Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho. Photograph: Jim Watson/AFP-Getty Images

Jose Mourinho remains determined to bring Frank Lampard to Internazionale and he indicated that he would leave the door open to the Chelsea midfielder until the very last moment.

"The transfer window is open until August 31 and we need a midfielder," said Mourinho yesterday, as he officially started work as the new manager of the Italian champions. "Lampard is at Chelsea but I have worked really well with him. I worked with Frank for three and a half years [at Chelsea], there is an unforgettable relationship. But in this moment, I respect players and the clubs."

Mourinho made Lampard his priority signing when he took over at San Siro, following a break from the game after his departure from Chelsea last September. He intends to play a 4-3-3 formation, with three forwards rather than a single spearhead supported by two wingers, and he sees Lampard on the left of a midfield trio as integral to the plan.

"I need a midfielder, I told the players too, because it was only fair," added Mourinho. "And I also told [the technical director Marco] Branca and [the president Massimo] Moratti a month ago. I don't have any problem repeating it."

Lampard has reached an impasse in his talks over a new contract at Chelsea. He believes he merits a five-year contract on improved terms but he has been offered four years. Chelsea have rejected a €10m (£7m) offer from the Italians and have insisted they will not negotiate.

Mourinho, meanwhile, is not expected to make a move for Didier Drogba. He has an abundance of attacking options, which have been swelled further by the £10m purchase of Mancini from Roma, and he is more likely to sell a striker than to buy one. Drogba has suggested that he might stay at Chelsea, although the club will not offer him a new contract.

This article was taken from: Guardian.co.uk

Ronaldo signing would 'cause upset' at Madrid

By: Chris Barrett

Cristiano Ronaldo's arrival at Real Madrid would cause major upset in the dressing room, the club's midfielder Wesley Sneijder warned yesterday. The Dutchman said that bringing in the Manchester United winger on wages vastly superior to his team-mates' would not be well received and added that Ronaldo was not needed.

Ronaldo is being offered a salary of about £150,000 a week after tax by Real and Sneijder said: "It would be bad for the dressing room if he gets a much higher salary than the rest of the squad. It's not important to me but I know other team-mates would not like that at all. Here we have footballers like him, for example Arjen Robben or Robinho. It's obvious that I want to play with Cristiano but you also have to maintain the equilibrium in the dressing room."

Ronaldo is desperate to move to Madrid in the face of United's determination to keep him but Sneijder suggested that the 23-year-old was not required. "For me this Madrid side do not need new signings," he said, adding that if a player was needed in any position it was a striker.

He is keen to keep hold of Robinho, who is wanted by Chelsea. "I hope Robinho stays because I think he is equal to Cristiano Ronaldo. People have criticised Robinho because he hasn't performed in the big matches but I saw important matches for Manchester United and Cristiano didn't perform either. It's not a criticism. I just want to point out that a player can't be at the same level all season."

This article was taken from: Guardian.co.uk

32 games live on FIFA.com

If you cannot make it to Marseille for the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup, then logging on to FIFA.com will be the best way of making sure you miss none of the action.

FIFA is giving fans free access to webcasts of the 32 matches in the competition via FIFA.com TV - an interactive service provided by the official site of world football's governing body.

The 32 matches will be broadcast in full in the following European territories:
Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kosovo, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, FYR Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom.

Each of the matches will be available with commentary in English at a download speed of 400 kbps.

These live webcasts are just one part of FIFA.com's comprehensive coverage of Marseille 2008, which includes:
• Background articles on the 16 teams with news, columns and interviews.
• Live match coverage on the FIFA.com MatchCast with statistics from the official FIFA database.
• Two-minute video highlights available around the world right after the final whistle.
• The chance for FIFA.com users to vote for the goal of the tournament.
• Special 'Have your say!' section where fans can exchange opinions on Marseille 2008 and more topics besides.

For access to the live webcasts, all you have to do is click on the FIFA.com TV link on the home page.

This article was taken from: FIFA.com

Arshavin fears the worst

Russia international Andrei Arshavin is still keen to sign for Barcelona even though the Catalan giants have snapped up Alex Hleb from Arsenal.

However, the 27-year-old, one of the stars of last month's Euro 2008, is concerned that his current club, Zenit St Petersburg, have set his transfer fee too high.

Arshavin said: "As they have signed Hleb, I do not know if they will want me too. We are different players, I know that, but does Barca have more money to spend on me?

"I really hope that they call and can sign me, but Zenit is asking for so much money. I know nothing more than that Barca offered £12million and Zenit said £24million, which is a lot.

"I have made my decision and Dick Advocaat knows clearly that I will go. I do not know if it will be to London, but my desire is well known.

"Now I do not want to not play or train for weeks. I agreed with the coach, with the club's permission, that I would only play if necessary while a transfer is sorted out.

"I was not in London negotiating anything. My club let me have a holiday after the European Championships, but I did not go to London."

This article was taken from: Football.co.uk

The best soccer Web sites and books to read during the Euro 2008 tournament.

The Ball Is Round

Cristiano Ronaldo. Click image to expand

On Saturday, the curtain lifts on the UEFA European Soccer Championship, a quadrennial rite that sublimates centuries of murderous nationalism into three weeks of slide tackles and corner kicks. Euro 2008 will feature 16 teams, including first-time participant Austria, which is co-hosting the competition with neighboring Switzerland. There is a notable absence: England, whose pitiful performance in the qualifying rounds has spared authorities in Innsbruck and Geneva the hassle of deploying storm troopers to prevent the pillaging of its tree-lined squares by visiting British fans.

Euro 2008 promises familiar spectacles—tactical brilliance by the Italians, athleticism from the Germans, forceful attacking by perennially underachieving Spain, and South American-style flair from Euro 2004 runner-up Portugal, whose 23-year-old winger Cristiano Ronaldo may be the world's best player. In the early round-robin group stage, all eyes will be on the "group of death," Group C, which includes three of the competition's powerhouses: Italy, France, and the Netherlands. Not to be missed is the Italy-France showdown on June 17, a rematch of the 2006 World Cup final—this time, presumably, with less head-butting.

News wonks can get their Euro 2008 fix by clicking refresh on Reuters Soccer Blog and the online edition of the popular glossy FourFourTwo. A livelier read is When Saturday Comes, a British publication that launched in the mid-1980s as a zine and has maintained a funny, frisky outsider's perspective on soccer's on- and off-field circuses. (Its tag line: "The Half-Decent Football Magazine.") When Saturday Comes' worldview is tinged by England's footballing inferiority complex. The introduction to its Euro 2008 blog poses the question: "Will Euro 2008 live up to the claim we made during World Cup 94 that major championships are better when England aren't involved?"

More English wit can be found in the Guardian's online Euro 2008 coverage, including a daily podcast hosted by James Richardson, a likable wag and an expert on continental soccer. But the highlights of the Guardian's coverage are its minute-by-minute match reports, which have elevated live-blogging to a gonzo literary art. Barry Glendenning's report of the Greece-Portugal Euro 2004 final typifies the glories of the form: a mix of lyrical play-by-play ("A Maniche snap-shot from the edge of the penalty area fizzes inches wide of Nikopolidis's right upright"); cheeky asides ("The camera focuses on the Prime Minister of Portugal. A woman beside him, who could well be his wife, is frantically waving a Portugal flag. I was going to write that I couldn't imagine Cherie Blair doing that, but I suppose I can"); cries of exasperation ("The Greek fans are making all the noise, while the Portuguese, who are obviously in the majority, appear to have succumbed to narcolepsy. I'm not far off it myself—a goal would be nice"); and lots of snippy real-time e-mail interactions with readers at home.

For colorful local perspective on the Euro 2008 drama, there's no substitute for the fulminations of sports dailies like Italy's La Gazzetta dello Sport, France's L'Équipe, and Germany's SportBild. Those of us whose Portuguese isn't quite up to a breezy skim of O Jogo may instead wish to consult Socceranto, a book published online in 2006 that proposes a universal language for the world's game, combining soccer slang and words culled from "the official languages spoken by each of the countries to have won the World Cup to date." I'm not sure I can imagine anyone actually speaking a sentence like: "Didier Drogba is a natural müller but has been accused by some tifosi in England of betraying the jogo bonito with klinsmanns in the mixer and even maradonas." Still, I'm happy to have learned the word Fliegenfanger—German for flycatcher, Socceranto for useless goalkeeper. It'll come in handy, I'm sure, as Euro 2008 progresses.

A more serious read is Soccer in Sun and Shadow by Uruguayan novelist Eduardo Galeano. Originally published in 1998, it is an eloquent, occasionally bombastic love letter to the game, comprising dozens of short essays with titles like "The Language of Soccer Doctors" and "The Perfect Kiss Would Like To Be Unique." Galeano has a fatalistic, purist take on the sport: "The history of soccer is a sad voyage from beauty to duty. When the sport became an industry, the beauty that blossoms from the joy of play got torn out by its very roots." But there is joyful play in Galeano's writing about great players and great goals, even in these fallen times. Of Italian striker Roberto Baggio, a star of the 1980s and '90s, Galeano says, "His legs have a mind of their own, his foot shoots by itself. … Baggio is a big horsetail that flicks away opponents as he flows forward in an elegant wave."

Perhaps the finest—certainly the stoutest—soccer history ever written is David Goldblatt's 974-page The Ball Is Round: A Global History of Soccer (2006), which crams it all in, from the game's ancient prehistory in Tan dynasty China to Zinedine Zidane. Goldblatt thinks and writes lucidly, offering insights on the social and economic aspects of soccer in the globalized age. He makes big claims for the sport, arguing that "no single world religion can match its geographical scope" and pointing out that almost half the planet watched the 2006 World Cup Final: "Three billion humans have never done anything simultaneously before," he writes. The book takes its title from a famous saying by German soccer legend Sepp Herberger. It nicely sums up the pleasures awaiting the millions of armchair coaches who will settle in this weekend for 22 straight days of matches: "The ball is round. The game lasts ninety minutes. Everything else is theory."

This article was taken from: Slate.com

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Capture Perfect Digital Sports and Action Shots - Digital Photography Tips Complementary Guide

by: Yvonne Grubb

What gets you all excited about your favourite sport? ... the thrill of the chase in horse racing or maybe the atmosphere and tension of a ball game, maybe your favourite player? ... Well if you were to capture some of these scenes how would you do it best? For some digital photography tips, let’s take a look at a few ideas right now to capture that realism ...

Get Familiar

It’s worth getting familiar with the sport before you start shooting, for example, how points are scored, what causes penalties etc, as this will give you an advantage over others … you will learn to expect where the best action is likely to be, and you can then capture those glorious moments.

Another great tip, as well as aiming to catch the action, capture the ‘emotion’ too. Be ready to shoot players’ faces on triumph of a goal, or any other emotive action in the game and you will bring your photos alive!

Be Prepared

Cold and bad weather conditions can quickly rob the life of your digital camera’s battery, so it’s important to always carry an extra charged battery especially for outdoor sports.

Action Techniques

Stop Action … you’ll very quickly be able to shoot an action shot and ‘freeze’ your subject practically in mid air. Imagine the wheels of a drag car on a dirt road, bouncing off the many bumps … for those few seconds while the car is in mid air, snap away to capture the action.

Lighting is not too much of an issue if you’re outside on a sunny or partially sunny day say at a car race, dog track, or horse race etc, but you’ll maybe need to make adjustments if you’re inside a gymnasium shooting a basketball game, for example. If the lighting is bright, then you’ll probably be okay, but depending on the type of lighting, you may need to activate your fill flash if you shoot players in action and you find your photo colorisation shifting to ‘yellow’.

Also bear in mind the distance, as your flash will not carry too far … it might be worth sitting near the basket hoop to catch the action!

Blurred Action … a couple of ideas behind blurred action is, firstly … if you look back at your photos you have taken using Stop Action, you may find one or two shots that did not freeze the action, which means your camera did not catch the action at the right moment … so you end up with an interestingly blurry effect to your subject.

Secondly, if you’re shooting a ball game, for example, you may get blurring if your player moves just as you click your shutter. If you did not intend for this to happen, you might be pleasantly surprised with the effect!

Panned Action … the most difficult to accomplish, but probably the most effective shooting technique, once mastered. The advantage using your digital camera is that you can delete unwanted frames and start again, so here’s how panning basically works...

Using your digital camera in automatic mode press the shutter half way down to focus on your subject, moving your camera sideways following the action, then pressing the shutter fully while still moving your camera. The effect created is the front of your subject should remain in fairly strong focus, while the back of your subject should start to blur, and as it blurs a long trail should appear, giving a feeling of movement like no other effect could possibly achieve.


By knowing what your digital camera can do, experiment with different methods to get the best shots. You could try shooting in continuous mode, then try panning the camera along with your subject, whilst he/she or it is in motion.

I hope these digital photography tips are helpful. If you can get to grips with panning, as I have described above, you’re on a winner!

About The Author

Yvonne Grubb owns http://www.www.digital-photo-tutorial.com which offers people information on digital photography tips