Messi Not For Sale

LIONEL Messi, a Barcelona Football Club striker, is not for sale at any price. Besides, Josep Maria Bartomeu, president of the club, said plans were on to discuss a new contract with the Argentine footballer. Speaking in an interview with radio station RAC1, posted on Barcelona’s website, Bartomeu said: “The club will sit down and negotiate a new contract. We will do what we have to to ensure he’s the best-paid player.”

Messi, a four-time Ballon d’Or winner, was reported to be a target for French side Paris St-Germain, prompting Barcelona to come out with its warning. The footballer has scored 18 goals so far but just eight of those have been in the league, although he has provided 36 assists in 20 appearances and has been on the winning side in 16 of the 20 games he played. The Argentine scored 60 goals in 50 appearances last season but has struggled to match that goal-scoring form in 2013-14.

His last league goal for the club was in September, before he was out for five weeks with a hamstring injury. “He can do everything. If he succeeds in other facets of his game, it doesn’t matter if he scores. Nothing surprises me with him. He controls the game well, passes the ball well, he is a good finisher, he can press and recover the ball. He sees passes that most people can only see whilst watching the game on TV or in the stands, not ones that you can normally see on the field,” Gerardo Martino, coach of Barcelona said.

 

Sharp Gets Euro Gold

Sharp
Sharp

LYNSEY Sharp was finally presented with her 2012 European Championships 800m gold medal at the Glasgow International Match on Saturday, January 25. The Scot was promoted from silver to gold medal position in 2013 when Russian Yelena Arzhakova was banned for two years for doping. Arzhakova’s ban also meant Sharp moved from bronze to silver position in the 800m at the 2011 European Under-23 Championships.

“I’m so thankful for everyone for making today really special,” said the 23-year-old Sharp, adding: “Even if I hadn’t come for the medal, I really wanted to come here and see what the crowd was like and enjoy the atmosphere – it’s really special.”

Her gold medal was presented by Cameron, her father, who himself a European 200m silver medallist and Commonwealth gold medallist in the 4x100m.

“He’s got a silver from the Europeans and I had a silver and we kind of had the same medal. Then when I got upgraded to a gold it was a bit sad because we didn’t have the same any more, but I couldn’t have thought of a better person to present me with it today,” Sharp said.

But the young Sharp has been sidelined by long-term injury but hopes to prove her fitness in time for this year’s Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. “Even if I hadn’t been getting my medal, I really wanted to come here and see what the crowd was like and enjoy the atmosphere – it’s really special,” she said.

Wawrinka’s Australian Open Surprise

Wawrinka
Wawrinka

STANISLAS Wawrinka, Australian Open champion, said he did not believe he was good enough to win a grand slam. The Swiss, 28, beat Rafael Nadal, the world number one, 6-3 6-2 3-6 6-3 in an epic match in Melbourne, on Sunday, January 26.

He is the first man outside the ‘big four’ of Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray to win a major since Juan Martin Del Potro in 2009.

Wawrinka is the first man to beat the number one and two seeds at a Grand Slam since Sergi Bruguera at 1993 French Open. Bruguera beat Pete Sampras and Jim Courier on his way to victory.

Wawrinka, who beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in the quarter-finals, will move up to third in the rankings on Monday, ahead of David Ferrer and Andy Murray. “I never expected to win a Grand Slam because, for me, I was not good enough to beat those guys… To win a Slam, to be number three [in the rankings], both for me is a big surprise,” Wawrinka said.

The win took the Australian Open champion past Federer, a 17-time major champion, to become Swiss number one for the first time. “It’s an amazing feeling. I saw Roger winning so many Grand Slams in the past, so now it’s my turn to win one. If you look at the 10 past years, except Del Potro, it’s only the top four guys who were winning all the Grand Slams,” he said.

Wawrinka is only the second Swiss man to win a Grand Slam singles title, the other being Federer. “Roger is a good friend. He’s for me the best player ever. He’s been there so many years,” Wawrinka said.

Sergio Garcia Wins Qatar Masters

Garcia
Garcia

SERGIO Garcia beat Mikko Ilonen in a play-off to win the Qatar Masters after both players had finished on 16 under. Garcia, 34-year-old Spaniard, hit a bogey-free seven-under 65 but missed a five-foot birdie putt that would have won him the tournament in 72 holes. Ilonen, the Finnish, birdied the 18th for a six-under 66 to force the play-off.

But Garcia’s birdie as they played the par-five 18th for a third time, after both players had missed eagle putts on the previous two holes, won the title. “It feels good,” said Garcia, who would to move into the world’s top 10 when the rankings at next update. It was also his first European Tour title in more than two years. “The up and down from the bunker in the play-off was key and I’m very happy to be able to win it,” he said.

The Spaniard had missed from 10 feet on the first extra hole and then found the greenside bunker with his approach second time around. His escape finished close enough for a tap-in birdie and put pressure on Ilonen who had a 20-foot eagle putt to win the tournament but his effort drifted wide of the cup.

With the light fading in Doha, the players headed back to the 18th tee for the third time. Ilonen drove into the rough and then hit his second into the same bunker his opponent had been in moments earlier but his third shot from the sand finished 15 feet from the pin.

Garcia found the fairway and then the heart of the green with his first two shots but, although he missed his eagle putt for the title, he was left with a simple tap-in after Ilonen’s birdie putt rolled three feet past the hole.

Garcia had started the final round three shots off the lead, which had been jointly held by England’s Steve Webster and Rafael Cabrera-Bello of Spain.

But he picked up two shots on the pair with three birdies on the front nine and then holed four more on the back nine.

Two bogeys cost Cabrera-Bello as he carded a three-under 69 to finish in a tie for third on 15 under alongside Denmark’s Thorbjorn Olesen (68) who missed an eight-foot eagle putt to make the play-off.

Compiled by Vincent Nzemeke

— Feb. 10, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT