HALLE // The German international striker Patrick Helmes has torn the cruciate ligament in his right knee and will be out of action for months, his club Bayer Leverkusen said. The 25-year-old injured his knee while on holiday and had surgery late last night, the club said. Helmes, the club's top scorer with 21 goals last season, will miss the start of the Bundesliga as well as his country's World Cup qualifiers in the late summer and autumn.
"He will be missing for much of the Bundesliga first round and for the crucial World Cup qualifiers of the national team," Leverkusen said on their website. "This is a terrible blow for Patrick. We will surely miss him," said the new Leverkusen coach Jupp Heynckes. Meanwhile in Italy, Napoli's Argentina striker Ezequiel Lavezzi risks being left out of the team for two years if he does not show more commitment to the Serie A club, the club's president Aurelio De Laurentiis said.
Lavezzi is seeking an improved contract or a move away, with Liverpool linked with the player, but De Laurentiis is fed up with player power and has warned the 24-year-old not to dig his heels in. "If he does, he will not play. He will stay out of the side for the next two years. Imagine what damage that will do to his profile," De Laurentiis said. *Reuters