x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Transfer talk: Arsenal pounce on Colombia’s David Ospina; Palacios fails Qatar medical

After a successful run with Colombi at the World Cup, Arsenal appear to be targeting David Ospina to fill No 2 goalkeeping duties behind Wojciech Szczesny.

David Ospina reached the World Cup quarter-finals with Colombia this month. Getty Images / July 4, 2014
David Ospina reached the World Cup quarter-finals with Colombia this month. Getty Images / July 4, 2014

Arsenal

Arsenal are close to reaching an agreement to sign Colombia goalkeeper David Ospina from Nice for a reported €4m (Dh19.8m), the French club’s president confirmed on Sunday.

“There isn’t an agreement yet but we’re not far away,” Nice president Jean-Pierre Rivere told AFP.

The two clubs are understood to have reached a verbal agreement over the transfer, according to a source close to the Ligue 1 outfit, but the move has yet to be finalised.

Ospina, 25, has spent the past six seasons with Nice and was part of the Colombia side that reached the quarter-finals of the World Cup in Brazil for the first time in the country’s history.

Ospina would provide competition for Arsenal’s incumbent No 1 and Poland international Wojciech Szczesny.

Stoke City

Wilson Palacios’s proposed transfer from Stoke City to Qatar Sports Club has collapsed after the Honduran international failed a medical, the Doha club said on Monday.

The 29-year-old defensive midfielder, who was sent off in his country’s opening 3-0 World Cup defeat to France last month, is entering the final year of his contract with the English Premier League side.

The former Tottenham Hotspur and Wigan Athletic player was mainly used from the bench last season and Stoke coach Mark Hughes has increased his midfield options in recent weeks by bringing in Fulham’s Steve Sidwell.

Brazil

Former World Cup-winning captain Dunga is favoured to serve for the second time as national coach and will be named as Luiz Felipe Scolari’s successor on Tuesday, Globo reported.

The Brazilian Football Confederation (CBF) had planed to announce the new leader last week but instead unwrapped a new technical commission headed by former reserve goalkeeper Gilmar.

After early speculation that the CBF would turn to currently clubless former Corinthians boss Tite, Brazilian media over the weekend said the body would in fact turn to Dunga, sacked after the 2010 World Cup.

Globo reported Dunga would likely choose Jorginho, who took a position as Al Wasl’s head coach in April, and who like him and Gilmar was in the World Cup-winning USA 1994 squad, as his right-hand man.

The Brazilian media conglomerate added that Dunga, 50, had been mulling a big-money offer from Venezuela as the team chases a first World Cup qualification for Russia 2018.

Upon learning the Brazil job was once again in the offing, Dunga decided to focus on that rather than chase a reported $5m (Dh18.3m) Venezuelan bonus in the event of finals qualification, according to Globo.

The former Fiorentina and Stuttgart midfielder replaced 1994 coach Carlos Alberto Parreira, who gave way to Gilmar last week as techical coordinator, in the top job after the 2006 World Cup.

He then led Brazil to Copa America success in 2007 and the 2009 Confederations Cup.

But the CBF wielded the axe after Dunga’s Brazil side, seen by many fans as over-cautious, lost their 2010 World Cup quarter-final to the Netherlands.

After their 2014 World Cup semi-final humiliation on home soil at the hands of champions Germany, Brazil are now seeking to overhaul their domestic game as well as their five-time world champions national side.

But attempts at very incremental reform in recent years have foundered.

Since Dunga was fired, Mano Menezes has likewise been tried and found wanting while Scolari has come back and proved unable to repeat his 2002 World Cup success – though he did lead Brazil to last year’s Confederations Cup.

Dunga is now seemingly poised to follow Parreira and Scolari in having a second bite at the Selecao cherry.

In his first spell at the helm, he oversaw 42 wins in 60 games for 12 draws and six losses.

Striker Hulk said he hoped Brazil would stick with a Brazilian coach, while praising Scolari.

“’Felipao’ made history with the Selecao. He won a World Cup, a Confederations Cup. But sadly, he couldn’t win a sixth title,” the Russian-based forward said.

“I hope his replacement is Brazilian. I see Germany, who won the title, Italy, Argentina, Brazil always had one of their own in charge. I hope that remains so with us.”

Brazil’s next game is a September 5 friendly in Miami against Colombia, whom they eliminated at the World Cup.

Algeria

Former Lorient coach Christian Gourcuff has succeeded Vahid Halilhodzic as coach of Algeria, the Algerian football federation has announced.

Gourcuff has been handed a contract leading up to the 2018 World Cup in Russia, with a more immediate target the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Morocco.

Over more than 25 years in management Gourcuff has coached Lorient on three separate occasions.

Halilhodzic stood down after leading Algeria to the last-16 at the World Cup for the first time. The Bosnian has taken up a job with Turkish side Trabzonspor.

Ukraine

At least seven foreign players for two top Ukrainian football teams have refused to return to the country as tensions mount after the Malaysia Airlines crash, media reported Sunday.

Six players for champions Shakhtar Donetsk and an Argentine with Metalist Kharkiv are too worried for their safety, the reports said.

The six Donetsk players refused to fly back to Ukraine after their side were beaten 4-1 by Lyon in a friendly Saturday in the French town of Annecy, ITAR-TASS news agency said.

It named five of the players as Brazilians Alex Teixeira, Fred, Douglas Costa, Dentinho and Argentine Facundo Ferreyra.

“I don’t want to give any comments for the moment,” Shakhtar general manager Sergei Palkin was quoted as saying by the Tribuna information site.

Meanwhile, Metalist Kharkiv’s Argentine midfielder Sebastian Blanco refused to return to Ukraine from a training camp in Austria, the R-Sport agency reported.

“After the Malaysian plane’s crash I have no intention to return to Ukraine,” the 26-year-old footballer was quoted as saying.

“The situation there is currently abnormal. I decided to stay in Buenos Aires.”

The Ukrainian Football Federation (FFU) is maintaining the start of the national championship for July 25 despite the troubles in the east of the country heightened by the apparent shooting down of the Malaysian Airlines jet on Thursday.

“The entire country mourns over the tragedy that happened. It’s terrible,” an FFU spokesman Pavel Ternovoi said. “But it will not influence the national championship kick off. We insist that football should stay out of politics.”

Follow us on Twitter @SprtNationalUAE