JULY 3 – SHORT CORNERS: INTERNATIONAL SOCCER NEWS NOTES AND RUMORS

Rafa Benitez practices his Italian

JULY 3 – SHORT CORNERS: INTERNATIONAL SOCCER NEWS NOTES AND RUMORS

LIVERPOOL SACK RAFA BENITEZ

Liverpool have bought out the remainder of their contract with manager Rafael Benitez, essentially sacking the man who had managed the club since 2004, according to multiple sources.

Benitez’s stock had plummeted dramatically in recent years and rumors circulated wildly on Merseyside that Rafa was on his way out, but when he recently turned down the Juventus opening, it seemed like he would be back managing the team he made Champions League Winners for another season.

The original 5-year contract, signed just 12 months ago, stipulated that Benitez would be due $23.5 million if his contract was terminated, but the Anfield club worked with their manager of the past six years for a mutually agreeable compensation. A move which might imply that Benitez already has a job lined up.

The most likely scenario involves the position at Inter Milan, which was recently vacated by Jose Mourinho when he left the San Siro to take over as Real Madrid manager.

Benitez was bought out to the tune of $4.3 million, freeing the Spanish manager to take over at Inter Milan.

ARSENAL REJECT BARCELONA’S BID FOR FABREGAS

Arsenal are still claiming that their midfielder Cesc Fabregas is not for sale, but Barcelona apparently are trying anyway.

The Catalan super club put a bid, reported to be around $42 million, for the Arsenal captain Tuesday night, only to have the bid rejected.

For his part the Fabregas has publicly stated he would love to move to the Nou Camp and play for his boyhood idol Pep Guardiola, but for now he plays a waiting game.

“I try to live my future day to day and not think beyond that.” Fabregas told reporters. “Above all, I want to keep enjoying the football, which is most important”

“My future? Well … I would love to go and win the World Cup in South Africa.”

Arsenal are so adamant of their plans to hang on to the 23-year-old Spanish International, they posted a response on the clubs official website.

“Arsenal captain Cesc Fabregas is under contract with the club until the summer of 2015. He is a highly valued member of the team and part of our future plans.

“We have followed recent speculation linking Cesc with a move away from the club but as there has never been any official approach for him, only two informal exchanges, in which we made it abundantly clear that we have no interest in transferring Cesc, we have refrained from publicly passing comment.

“However, yesterday evening we received an offer from Barcelona for Cesc and in response, we immediately and resolutely told them once again that we have no intention of selling our captain.

“To be clear, we will not make any kind of counter proposal or enter into any discussion. Barcelona have publicly stated that they will respect our position and we expect that they will keep their word.”

WEST BROM SIGNS IBANEZ FROM ATHLETICO

Newly promoted West Bromwich Albion have signed Spanish defender Pablo Ibanez on a free transfer from Athletico Madrid.

The 28-year-old Ibanez had fallen out of favor at Athletico, only making 7 appearances for the club in the 2009-10 season.

West Brom manager Roberto Di Matteo was quick to praise the clubs newest signing in a club statement.

“Pablo comes with bags of experience at the highest level, having been a regular fixture in La Liga for the past seven seasons,”

“He’s also played in the Champions League for Atletico and the World Cup for Spain, so the Premier League should hold no fears for him.”

BRAZIL BEAT ZIMBABWE IN FIRST WORLD CUP TUNE-UP

Zimbabwe and Tanzania hardly seem the ideal preparation for Portugal and Ivory Coast, but Brazil played their first of only two friendly matches on their way to the World Cup, a 3-0 victory over Zimbabwe in Harare.

The five time World Cup Champions are the first team from outside Africa to play in Zimbabwe since the country’s independence in 1980.

Brazil survived a crucial injury scare when first-choice goalkeeper Julio Cesar went off in the first half, but it was later reported that he was substituted as a precaution.

Both Zimbabwe and Brazil struggled to find their form and it took most of the half before the South Americans were firing on all cylinders, heading into the interval 2-0 ahead. Zimbabwe were not blown off the park by Brazil and the entire evening seemed more of a celebration of football then a World Cup tune-up.

Next up for Brazil is a match against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam on 7 June in their final warm-up game.

WORLD CUP TUNE-UPS

Wednesday, June 2

Greece 0-2 Paraguay

Honduras 0-0 Azerbaijan

Serbia 0-0 Poland

Zimbabwe 0-3 Brazil

Thursday, June 3

Germany v Bosnia-Herzegovina

Italy v Mexico

South Korea v Spain

Friday, June 4

Cote d’Ivoire v Japan

France v China

New Zealand v Slovenia

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