Premier League

Bernard denies Arsenal link

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Tue, 23 Jul 2013 11:07:00

Sunderland manager Paolo Di Canio has promised the club's supporters that his team will not be involved in a relegation battle this season.

The Italian also believes the Black Cats will play better and more stylish football after making a host of changes to his squad this summer.

Sunderland only avoided the drop from the Premier League by three points last season after Di Canio replaced Martin O'Neill as boss at the end of March.

"For sure, our plan is to play better football and stay up more comfortably than last year," said Di Canio ahead of the Barclays Asia Trophy clash with Spurs in Hong Kong on Wednesday.

"During the season, the plan that you make at the beginning of the season can change, but I am sure that we will finish in a more comfortable position this year because the players are good players and are concentrating.

"I also need to change the mentality a bit that I found last year. But I can tell you that something has changed a lot and I really think that we will have a very good season.

"You saw how we tried to play much more from the back last year. We want to have a clear identity on the field. We will have a clear identity and we play much more football than we played last year."

The Uruguay international is set to make his first appearance for the Reds this summer in tomorrow's friendly against Melbourne Victory, having flown into Australia on Sunday after extended leave following the Confederations Cup.

While he was away the 26-year-old has spoken about the attraction of Real Madrid and his agent Pere Guardiola has told the club the player wants to play in the Champions League but will not try to force through a move.

But that has not affected Suarez, who has returned to training with the same vigour he had last season and Jones said they expect him to stay.

"It's good to have Luis and (fellow Uruguay international) Seb Coates back," he told the Liverpool Echo.

"Most of the boys were joking with him about his Uruguayan (television) advert which we saw on the internet.

"Luis is a bubbly character. You always know when he's about as you can hear him five rooms away!

"He just loves football - he lives and breathes it. You saw him in training here, he's like a little kid. He doesn't want to stop - it's like waiting for your mum to call you in.

"He's that type of character. He's never going to shirk any effort. We don't expect anything less, no matter what's gone on in the media.

"He's the same player we've been used to. Nothing has changed.

"He's still here and we expect it to stay that way. We all hope he stays as he's a fantastic player. I see no reason to doubt that."

Jones has been working closely with Liverpool's new goalkeeper Simon Mignolet since the Belgium international's arrival from Sunderland.

He appears to be favourite for the number one spot as Jose Reina, who has yet to join up with the squad after his Confederations Cup involvement, could be on his way to Napoli after they made an approach for a loan deal which would reunite the Spaniard with former Reds manager Rafael Benitez.

Jones has been impressed with the new £9million signing.

"I've seen a fair bit of him and he's done really well," he told liverpoolfc.com.

"Last season was probably his best so far and Sunderland probably owe a bit to him for staying up.

"For him it's a big move but it's something he's probably deserved from last year and he'll be hoping to continue in the way he finished last season.

"His best quality is his overall quality. He's pretty consistent in everything he does. That's where you want to be - be good at every aspect, really.

"He's got a few years before he hits his peak as well. He's a very good goalkeeper.

"It doesn't change too much for me. It's a new challenge, it's someone new.

"Training has been good and it's just about getting on with it and doing your best, as you do every day."

Burton, 36, penned a one-year deal at Glanford Park following a successful trial and links up again with Iron boss Brian Laws, who was his manager at Sheffield Wednesday.

The former Portsmouth and Derby forward most recently enjoyed a spell with Gillingham where he netted 12 goals in 39 appearances.

"First and foremost, Brian Laws attracted me to the club. I've played under him and Russ Wilcox before," he told the club's official website.

"Hopefully I can bring goals, experience and a calming influence to the team. I'm very experienced and that always helps bringing through the younger lads.

"There are a lot of good, young lads here so that can only help."

Just a day after the 21-year-old's current employers Velez Sarsfield claimed the deal would go through following the Black Cats' return from Hong Kong, where they are playing in the Barclays Asia Trophy, the Italian revealed the deal had been put on hold because of a problem revealed by a medical on Wearside last week.

Di Canio told the Sunderland Echo in Hong Kong this morning: "At the moment, there is no chance for Gino Peruzzi to join us."

Manager Steven Pressley has included the unnamed striker in his last two pre-season games and is hoping to tie him down to signing a pre-contract agreement before the club reveal his identity.

And Baker admits it would be a real boost for the club if the French attacker put pen to paper.

"He's a great lad, which is important," he told the Coventry Telegraph. "He's fairly quiet and shy but he's a beast on the pitch and I wouldn't like him to run full-on into me.

"The sooner the club identify him the better because I am sick of being asked on Facebook and saying I can't tell you.

"But he's been fantastic in his first couple of games. His fitness is not 100 per cent there yet but I think that when he is up to speed he'll be a real danger for us.

"It's nice to see the gaffer has got lads on trial and trying to bring new players in because he obviously wants us to be strong for the start of the new season."

Pools boss Colin Cooper made the decision on Monday and it marks a milestone moment for the 29-year-old midfielder.

Sweeney is set to take part in a record 13th season at Victoria Park and currently sits fourth in the club's all-time appearances list behind Ray Thompson, Watty Moore and Ritchie Humphreys.

"I'm delighted actually, I'm really honoured and it means a lot," he told the club's official website. "It wasn't something that I expected if I'm being honest but the gaffer sat me down and had a chat about it in Holland.

"Maybe I should have been a lot more positive about it but he caught me totally by surprise at the time but now I've had time to think about it I'm really pleased.

"When the gaffer talked to me he just basically wanted to make sure I was okay with it; he didn't want it to affect performances because I think sometimes it can weigh heavy on you."

He added: "What's nice is that I have had a lot of the former captains on the phone or texting me congratulations. Ritchie Humphreys, Michael Nelson, Sam Collins and Peter Hartley have all been on.

"I'm not sure it will change a lot around the dressing room - we have captains in there in Sam and Peter and they won't lose their voices and they will still be vocal and drive the team on as they always have."

Irishman Carey - who helped the Buddies win last season's Scottish Communities League Cup - travelled with the Tannadice outfit to Germany and Spain for the club's two-week summer warm-up camp.

However, McNamara has decided the versatile left-sided player - who can also play full-back - does not fit into his plans.

And 20-year-old French defender Jean Yves Koue has also been told he will not be offered a deal.

The Arabs issued the following statement on their official Twitter page: "Jackie McNamara confirms he isn't pursuing his interest in trialists Graham Carey and Jean Yves Koue at this time."

Former Turkish youth cap Nadir Ciftci, however, could be handed a deal after McNamara confirmed his interest in the former NAC Breda forward.

The 21-year-old remains on trial with the club while negotiations continue and has been joined by Chesterfield defender Neal Trotman in attempting to win a contract with McNamara's men.

The club statement added: "Jackie also confirms [the] club have defender Neal Trotman on trial this week and are hoping to keep Nadir Ciftci at the club if possible."

Mourinho controversially signed Cole at the end of his contract at Arsenal in 2006. Cole, reunited with Mourinho following the Portuguese's return to Stamford Bridge, thinks any player would find it difficult to turn down the Chelsea boss.

"I jumped at the chance," England defender Cole said. "He's a great manager. He's proved how good he is with the number of trophies he's won with different teams.

"He's great at motivating players and keeping you on your toes, keeping you doing what you should be doing.

"For me, if there's a player he wants to come to Chelsea, it would be one thought in my mind: to come here and to be under a great manager. It's a pleasure to play under him."

The comments are sure to interest Wayne Rooney, who is Mourinho's sole transfer target.

Chelsea saw a bid for the Manchester United striker rejected last week.

Cole has won every honour in the club game since joining Chelsea. The 32-year-old hopes to give Mourinho strong service in the forthcoming campaign, believing he was below his best under the former Porto, Inter Milan and Real Madrid boss in the Portuguese's first spell in west London.

Cole added: "Having the manager back now from 2006 when he bought me, I still feel I owe him something. I didn't really feel I played as well as I could and as well as I have for Chelsea (since), when he bought me.

"On a personal level, I think I owe him a lot. As a team, I hope we can go on and win many trophies. It's a big club and we need to win trophies.

"With the new players we've got in, we're training hard and we're confident that, hopefully, this season could be a great season for Chelsea again.

"I've been lucky enough to win big trophies. Of course, I hope to win more. Having the manager back, hopefully we can do it all together. As players we owe it to the manager to win the league or the Champions League again."

Cole earlier this year signed a one-year contract extension which incorporates the forthcoming season.

Asked if he would like to stay on longer, he said: "I hope so.

"That's not down to me. I've just got to keep training hard, try to keep playing well and hopefully keep my place in the team.

"We'll see what goes from there. I love Chelsea. I've been here seven years now and I would love to stay here as long as I can."

The 50-year-old, who led Newell's Old Boys to the Argentinian Clausura title last season but recently severed ties with the club, has agreed a two-year contract at Barca where he will replace Tito Vilanova.

Barca announced on Friday night that the 44-year-old Vilanova was stepping down as he continues his battle with cancer.

"FC Barcelona have reached an agreement to appoint Gerardo Martino as the new coach of the football team for the next two seasons . This agreement is pending the drafting and signing of the contract,'' a statement on fcbarcelona.cat read.

"In the coming hours [a programme will be planned for] his arrival in Barcelona, signing the contract and the subsequent presentation.''

A host of coaches were linked to the vacant position with the Spanish champions, including Luis Enrique, Andre Villas-Boas, Marcelo Bielsa, Michael Laudrup and Guus Hiddink, who yesterday resigned as coach of Anzhi Makhachkala.

However, Martino emerged as the favourite over the weekend and the former Argentina midfielder was today confirmed as Barca's new boss.

Martino had been in charge of Newell's in his native Rosario for the last two seasons, having previously also represented the club in three different spells as a player. He also played for Spanish side Tenerife as well as Lanus in his homeland, Barcelona SC in Ecuador and O'Higgins in Chile.

Prior to taking over at Newell's, Martino spent four years as coach of Paraguay, from 2007 to 2011.

He led them to the quarter-final of the 2010 World Cup - the nation's best-ever performance in the competition - before losing 1-0 to eventual champions Spain.

The following year, Martino guided Paraguay to their first Copa America final since 1979 but were beaten 3-0 by Uruguay. He stepped down from his post later that month.

The news of Martino's impending appointment is sure to go down well with Barcelona talisman Lionel Messi, who has spoken in glowing terms about his compatriot in the past.

The two men both hail from Rosario and many in the media see the appointment as deliberate move from the Barcelona board to keep the four-time Ballon d'Or winner happy.

Speaking a year ago, Messi told Diario Ole: "I like Tata Martino. He is a great coach... He gets his teams playing well and we all respect him.''

Burnett, 22, agreed a two-year deal on Monday, subject to international clearance having been released by Dutch side SC Telstar.

The former Arsenal trainee will link up with fellow Dagger Gavin Hoyte who also graduated through the Gunners' youth system.

"He's still only young and has a lot of ability, experience and talent," Burnett told the club's official website.

"Hopefully we can bring out the best in him and I'm really excited about working with him.

"I also think the fans will be love watching him play, he has a lot of energy and it really shows on the pitch."

Reports in L'Equipe had claimed that the 20-year-old midfielder was due in London on Friday to undergo tests before finalising a switch to the Emirates.

However, speaking ahead of the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final on Wednesday, the Brazilian admitted he does not know where his future lies.

"I don't want to talk about this in a week as important as this one," he told Superesportes.

"I want to talk about the game and I don't want to be impolite or ignore it in any way.

"I don't know what will happen after the game. My future at Atletico Mineiro will be in the board's hands from Thursday onwards."

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has so far only brought in France U20 striker Yaya Sanogo this summer and has been linked with a string of big names, including Luis Suarez, Wayne Rooney and Gonzalo Higuain.

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