BY DAN KARELL
As training finished Friday afternoon at Arsenal’s London Colney practice facility, forward Theo Walcott dotted the I’s, crossed the T’s, and signed his name on a brand new contact extension.
The 23-year-old has agreed to a three-and-a-half-year deal worth £100,000 a week, with a £3 million signing bonus. Had Walcott not signed then he would have been free to leave Arsenal this summer on a free transfer.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has faced serious external pressure from the fans and media for Arsenal’s recent performances, as well as the club’s resistance to offer their star players big contracts. However now, the pressure to sign Walcott has finally been lifted from the Arsenal boss’ shoulders.
Here are some other stories to get your Friday running:
KAKA DREAMS OF MOVE BACK TO MILAN
After announcing his desire to leave Real Madrid, former World Player of the Year winner Kaka has his sights set on a return to former club A.C. Milan.
The Italian club is currently holding talks with Kaka’s agent as well as Real Madrid, in an effort to secure a loan deal for the rest of the season.
Milan Vice-President Adriano Galliani stated yesterday that the Rossioneri could not afford Kaka at his current wage level, but Kaka has made it be known that he would be willing to take a pay cut to return to the club.
Kaka has made only seven appearances for Real Madrid this season in all competitions.
SOUTHAMPTON SACK MANAGER ADKINS
Southampton have shocked some of the football world, with the announcement of the firing of manager Nigel Adkins, and the subsequent appointment of former Espanyol manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Adkins had taken the club from League One back to the Premiership this season in the last two and a half years, before his sacking today. Adkins final match in charge of the Saints was a 2-2 draw at Chelsea.
Pochettino, 40, left Espanyol in November 2012, after a record of 49 wins in 146 league matches.
ARGENTINA CRASH OUT OF SOUTH AMERICAN YOUTH CHAMPIONSHIPS
In one of the biggest surprises in world football, the Argentinian U-20 football team failed to advance out of the group stage of the South American Youth Championships for the first time since 1992.
The hosts won their final group game over Colombia by a score of 3-2, but it was not enough for them to progress to the knockout stages. Argentina finished with four points, after losing their first two games to Paraguay and Chile, before eking out a draw with Bolivia.
Argentina has won the competition four times, most recently in 2003. They’ve been perennial favorites for each World Youth Championship as well, winning that tournament six times, most recently back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2007.
A new U.K. visa rule will make it harder for players without an E.U. passport to be given a work permit to play in England. (REPORT)
Manchester United midfielder Darren Fletcher is out for the remainder of the season, after having surgery to repair his ulcerative colitis. (REPORT)
In response to Arsene Wenger’s public comments, Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis has stated that he wants forward Edinson Cavani to stay at the club “for a long time.” (REPORT)
Former Brazilian World Cup hero Rivaldo has signed a one-year contract to play with Brazilian Second Division club Sao Caetano. Oh yea, and he’s 40 years old. (REPORT)
What do you think of these reports? Surprised that Arsenal got the deal done with Walcott? Do you think Kaka is making the right move to go back to Milan? Is Argentina’s absence in the upcoming World Youth Championships later this year bad for the game?
Please leave your thoughts below.