With the transfer window approaching Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao is a name coming up in conversation, but the Colombian says he is happy where he is, writes Gary Meenaghan.
Transfer talk: Radamel Falcao 'happy' at Atletico
DUBAI // Radamel Falcao, Atletico Madrid's in-demand Colombian striker, insisted Saturday that he has no intention of leaving the Spanish club next month in favour of a lucrative transfer to the English Premier League.
The 26 year old, who helped Atletico to the Europa League title last year with two goals in the final, has been in prolific form this season scoring 20 goals in only 16 games, including a hat-trick in the European Super Cup game against the European champions Chelsea.
Not surprisingly, the London side are one of the clubs being linked with a January move for the striker, who has a £48 million (Dh285m) buyout clause.
Rafa Benitez, Chelsea's Spanish coach, confirmed last week that he is in the market for a forward.
Manchester City are also interested in Falcao with their coach Roberto Mancini visiting the Estadio Vicente Calderon earlier this season.
The Premier League champions trail their rivals Manchester United in the title race and are expected to strengthen their squad when the transfer window opens on Tuesday in a bid to defend their title.
However, Falcao is unlikely to be an option for either club after confirming that while it is pleasing to be attracting attention from some of the world's top clubs, he is aiming to remain in the Spanish capital and possibly even see out the remainder of his three year contract.
"My aim is to end this contract properly," he said during the Dubai International Sports Conference. "I do not know what will happen in the future, but the club has made a major effort for me to stay this year and for now I am only thinking about fulfilling the objectives of the club.
"I feel pride to learn that the work I am doing is being acknowledged by other clubs, but having said that, this is part of football.
"I am very happy in my club and I am very calm. We are having a good season and I hope to continue in this way.
"I think everyone will benefit from this."
Miguel Angel Gil Marin, the Atletico chairman who also attended the two-day conference in the emirate, ruled out Falcao departing next month, although conceded he could leave in the summer.
"I prefer he remains with me at the end of the season," Gil Marin said.
"But it's like you. If you received a proposal that was seven times more than your salary at another newspaper, I'm sure you will decide to go.
"I can't forbid for Falcao to increase his salary, to improve his way of life. I'm only the manager of the club, not the owner of the man."
When Falcao was directly asked about a potential move to City, the Colombian smiled and replied: "First, they would need to speak to Miguel Angel."
CAPELLO DEFENDS ITALY'S INTEGRITY
It lasted only a few seconds, but Fabio Capello's granite mask slipped a little as he spoke candidly about the resoluteness of Italian football as well as denouncing criticism levelled at Italian coaches.
The former England manager, now the head coach of the Russian national team, was speaking on the second day of the Dubai International Sports Conference where he heard his native country's reputation and style of football questioned.
The 66 year old has developed an image of being a defence-minded coach, but he insists this is not the case and says he and his compatriots are routinely stereotyped.
"In Russia, [my team] are criticised for not scoring goals," Capello said.
"The media say Italians work too much on defence, but if it were another foreign coach it would be seen as very good. This is a criticism that comes with all Italian coaches."
Match-fixing scandals have tarnished Italian football's image in recent years and while Capello concedes Serie A's status has slipped, he says the ability of the country's coaches has been proven.
"We got to the finals of European Championships, despite Italian football going through difficulties," Capello said.
"Before we used to have four teams in the Champions League, now we only have three and are running risk of losing another one.
"Yet when you go through a tough time, real men emerge and I can see this when it comes to Italian football.
"Difficulties, scandals, etc; we are never happy to hear about it all, but when it comes to Italian coaches who work on the pitch, they were still able to exceed expectations.
"Our ability to achieve the best despite the problems is being rewarded."
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