Saturday 16 December 2017

Soccer Briefs: QPR looking for immediate bounce as Mark Hughes takes reigns:

QPR's players were yesterday hoping replacing Neil Warnock with Mark Hughes would have as big an impact as Sunderland's decision to bring in Martin O'Neill for Steve Bruce.

O'Neill has transformed the fortunes of the Wearsiders since becoming their manager last month, dragging them away from the relegation zone and into the top half of the Barclays Premier League.

Rangers midfielder Shaun Derry believes Hughes can do the same at Loftus Road, admitting he had already been wowed by the "aura" surrounding his new boss.

"It's vital that when you make a change, you make it for someone who's going to come in with that type of pedigree," Derry told his club's official website,

"He's got an aura about him - and so have his staff.

"It's very important that we now get a few days of training in under him, so that he can stamp his mark on us short term, and show what he wants us to do on Sunday. It's a huge game for us."

That game is at Newcastle, before which Rangers could find themselves in the bottom three.


Blackburn manager Steve Kean has confirmed the club have rejected two bids for Christopher Samba and reiterated that the player is not for sale.

Rovers captain Samba, 27, has been heavily linked with moves to Tottenham and QPR, while interest from Paris St Germain has also been mooted.

Speculation has increased in the past 24 hours after the French-born Congolese defender was quoted in L'Equipe saying that his current club - who are bottom of the Barclays Premier League - "doesn't evolve at all", that "things have not gone as I was told" and that he feels it is "time for a change".

Asked about the matter yesterday, though, Kean referred to a statement released by Blackburn last Friday, which stressed that Samba was not for sale.

"I know there has been an article in L'Equipe, but I haven't seen it myself," said Kean, speaking ahead of Saturday's clash with Fulham at Ewood Park.

"All I can say is that I have been told that Chris has done an interview. What is definite is that there were two bids from one club which were refused."


Bolton boss Owen Coyle believes comeback duo Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes are role models for the game.

The pair have both made memorable returns to the English arena over the last few days.

While Henry wasted no time in grabbing the headlines with his winner against Leeds on Monday, Scholes overcame a hesitant start to help guide Manchester United to their FA Cup win over Manchester City last Sunday.

It was a remarkable introduction given the 37-year-old retired last May, claiming he was no longer capable of producing performances to the level he was used to.

Yet, according to Coyle, both Scholes and Henry - back at Arsenal for a short stint as he builds up to another Major League Soccer campaign with New York Red Bulls - are guiding lights for any young professional.

"These players are winners but the thing I love is that they have a desire to play football," said Coyle. "They have a passion and enthusiasm for it."


AC Milan have confirmed that Alexandre Pato will remain at the San Siro to end reports linking the Brazilian striker with a move to Paris St Germain.

Media in France yesterday claimed PSG had reached an agreement with Milan to acquire the 22-year-old on a permanent transfer.

A statement from Milan read: "AC Milan announces that Alexandre Pato will remain with the Rossoneri outfit.

"The striker has decided to continue his young, splendid and winning career with Milan."

Pato, who has scored 51 goals in 111 league appearances for the Rossoneri since making his debut in January 2008, said to "Milan is my home.

"I didn't wish to end my Rossoneri career after winning my first two trophies with this jersey (last season).

"I want to contribute to write the history of this club and to add further achievements and joy to this club with happiness and perfect harmony in the group.


Barcelona set up a blockbuster Copa del Rey quarter-final against Real Madrid without ever having to hit top gear against Osasuna.

Barca had won the first leg 4-0 and were able to rest most of their top players tonight and still win 2-1.

Dejan Lekic's drive put Osasuna 1-0 up at half-time on the night but Alexis Sanchez headed a 49th-minute equaliser after Adriano's cross-shot flashed across the six-yard box.

Substitute Lionel Messi threaded in youngster Sergi Roberto to make it 2-1 tonight and 6-1 on aggregate.

Athletic Bilbao also progressed with a 4-0 win over Albacete.

Bilbao had been held to a goalless draw by the Segunda Division B in the first leg but were dominant at San Mames tonight.

The 'Clockwork Cheese' trailed by only one goal at the interval but had no answer in the second half, Ander Herrera adding to Markel Susaeta's first-half strike before Gaizka Toquero and Mikel San Jose rounded off victory.


Paris St Germain have completed the signing of Brazilian left-back Maxwell from Barcelona.

The 30-year-old was introduced at a press conference in the French capital this afternoon after arriving from the Catalan club last night to finalise the terms of his deal.

"From my first conversation with (director of football) Leonardo, I felt really wanted," Maxwell said. "The invitation to join Paris made me very happy. This suits from the path that I have taken before (playing for Ajax, Inter Milan, and Barcelona).

"The project and the prospects motivated me."

Leonardo added: "I have always admired Maxwell. I have followed him throughout his career. I'm really happy to have signed him."

Maxwell, who becomes PSG's first signing of the January transfer window, has agreed a three-and-a-half year deal with the club.

Maxwell joined Barca in 2009 from Inter Milan, and won 10 competitions in all during his time with the club, collecting medals from two league titles, one Champions League crown, two Club World Cups, two European Super Cups and three Spanish Super Cups.

He made 89 appearances for Barca, scoring two goals.

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