Gossip column: Messi, Essien, Hazard, Scolari, Huntelaar

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Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois claims his previous meetings with Lionel Messi will give him an advantage during Saturday's World Cup quarter-final but admits the Argentina captain is capable of winning the game on his own. ESPNexternal-link

Independent World cup section

Argentina legend Diego Maradona has suggested that Messi, 27, is under too much pressure to turn his nation into World Cup winners.Daily Mirrorexternal-link

Belgium midfielder Eden Hazard, 23, believes his side can stop Messi and beat Argentina when the two teams meet.Daily Telegraphexternal-link

Argentina defender Pablo Zabaleta has rejected suggestions his side are a one-man team - but claims the players have been told to give the ball to Messi as much as possible.Independentexternal-link

Michael Essien could face punishment from the Ghana Football Association after coach Kwesi Appiah claimed the midfielder, 31, refused to warm up before his side's last group game against Portugal. Ghana FAexternal-link

Russian MP Vladimir Zhirinovsky has said coach Fabio Capello should appear before parliament and explain why his side performed so badly at the World Cup, going out in the group phase. Guardianexternal-link

Brazil coach Luiz Felipe Scolari has summoned the team's psychologist for a therapy session to help the players deal with the World Cup pressure. Bildexternal-link


Klaas-Jan Huntelaar
Huntelaar joined Schalke from AC Milan in 2010

Liverpool could provide competition for Arsenal in the quest to sign Schalke's Netherlands international striker Klaas Jan Huntelaar, 30. Daily Starexternal-link

Manchester City appear to be winning their fight to hang on to Alvaro Negredo, 28, after Atletico Madrid switched targets to Bayern Munich's 28-year-old Croatia international striker Mario Mandzukic. Daily Mirrorexternal-link

Arsenal and Tottenham have been given renewed hope in their bid to land 21-year-old Ivory Coast international defender Serge Aurier after QPR had a £5m bid rebuffed by Toulouse. Expressexternal-link

Watford have confirmed that they have rejected a bid from Burnley for 26-year-old striker Troy Deeney. Lancashire Telegraphexternal-link

Switzerland's World Cup midfielder Xherdan Shaqiri, 22, must decide between signing a new contract with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich, or a move to Liverpool. Expressexternal-link

West Brom are due for talks with Burkina Faso forward Prejuce Nakoulma. Several sources in Poland claim the 27-year-old - who has just become a free agent after leaving Gornik Zabrze - is set for discussions with Albion over a potential free transfer. Birmingham Mailexternal-link

Sunderland are prepared to let Danny Graham leave in a cut-price £1m deal, as they accept a hefty loss on the 28-year-old striker. Sunderland Echoexternal-link

Swansea have told Ashley Williams he's not for sale as talks over the 29-year-old defender's future continue, with Arsenal and Sunderland keen to sign him. South Wales Evening Postexternal-link

Fulham's pursuit of Ross McCormack has been dealt a blow after Leeds United reiterated their desire to keep the wantaway 27-year-old frontman. GetWestLondonexternal-link

Daily star
Daily Star back page

Manchester United have been told they can sign Sporting Lisbon's defensive midfielder William Carvalho, 22, as long as they meet his £37m buyout clause. Expressexternal-link

Everton have rejected an approach from Tottenham for their England international defender John Stones, 20. Sun (subscription required)external-link

Southampton are determined to keep hold of centre-half Dejan Lovren, 24, despite interest from Liverpool, Tottenham and Arsenal. Expressexternal-link

Juventus will try to sign Manchester City's central defender Matija Nastasic, 21, on a loan deal as cover for 33-year-old Italy international Andrea Barzagli, who is recovering after having surgery on an Achilles injury. Talksportexternal-link

Former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o could stay in the Premier League, with Arsenal and Everton both interested in signing the 33-year-old striker. Talksportexternal-link

Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis, 28, will have to force through a move to Chelsea after talks between the two clubs stalled. Daily Starexternal-link

Arsenal and Liverpool are set to compete for the signature of Chile and Barcelona striker Alexis Sanchez, with the 25-year-old striker set to cost at least £30m. Daily Mailexternal-link


Aston Villa's new assistant manager Roy Keane says he does not deserve his fearsome reputation in the game. Daily Mirrorexternal-link

Harry Redknapp has been arguing with club bosses at Queens Park Rangers, who want to stop him signing 35-year-old Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand. Daily Mirrorexternal-link

Argentina legend Diego Maradona, 53, is to hold talks over becoming the new coach of Venezuela. Guardianexternal-link

GLOBAL GOSSIP (sourced by BBC Monitoring)

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is trying to prevent the departure of 26-year-old Argentina midfielder Angel Di Maria, who has been associated with Paris St-Germain and Arsenal. Marcaexternal-link

Schalke's 30-year-old Dutch forward Klaas Jan Huntelaar, who has been rumoured to be moving to England next season, says he has not talked to any club about any transfer move. Bildexternal-link

Turkish side Galatasaray have offered a £3m-per-season deal to tempt former Chelsea striker Samuel Eto'o, 33. Le Figaroexternal-link

Bayern Munich are in the running for Fiorentina's 26-year-old Colombian midfielder Juan Cuadrado and Atletico Madrid's 28-year-old Uruguayan defender Diego Godin. Bildexternal-link

Athletic Bilbao have renewed their interest in Real Sociedad's Antoine Griezmann and could make a summer move for the 23-year-old French midfielder. Marcaexternal-link

Espanyol are hoping 27-year-old goalkeeper Kiko Casilla will stay on at the club despite huge interest from Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid. Marcaexternal-link


David Luiz with his Brazil team-mates
David Luiz (left) and the Brazil squad travel to Fortaleza for their World Cup quarter-final

Prolific social media user David Luiz, has posted a picture of his Brazil team-mates en route to Friday's World Cup quarter-final with Colombia in Fortaleza. David Luiz Facebookexternal-link

Australia forward Tim Cahill has not had much time off after his country's elimination from the World Cup as he is back training with Major League Soccer side New York Red Bulls. He writes on Twitter:external-link"WOW today's one of the hottest days of the year. Training done and finishing with an ice bath."

Belgium defender Vincent Kompany is looking forward to meeting some of his Manchester City team-mates in the quarter-final of the World Cup. Kompany writes on Twitter:external-link "What an amazing game Belgium v USA. Looking forward to a great match-up with Manchester City's Argentines Martin Demichelis, Pablo Zabaleta and Sergio Aguero."

USA winger Alejandro Bedoya:external-link"What an experience it was playing in a World Cup. Thanks America & fans for believing. Blessed to be a part of this team."

Ahead of the France v Germany quarter-final on Friday, France playmaker Karim Benzema ‏tweetsexternal-link former Real Madrid team-mate Mesut Ozil and says: "See you on Friday bro!"

Michel Vorm
Michel Vorm is part of the Netherlands squad

Swansea and Netherlands goalkeeper Michel Vorm on Twitter:external-link "Visited Favela Santa Maria, where my idol Michael Jackson recorded a famous video. Amazing day."

BBC pundit Rio Ferdinand ‏on Twitter:external-link "Bumped into my favourite Nigerian player from World Cup 94. Sunday Oliseh. What a good guy."

USA goalkeeper Tim Howard on Twitter:external-link "I'm proud to suit up with every one of these guys. It's a tremendous honour to represent this country & a ride I'll never forget. Thanks for joining us."

Brazil midfielder Oscar on Twitter:external-link "The whole of Brazil is supporting me and my promise is always to play the best I can for my team."


Goalkeeper Paddy Kenny, 36, has been dropped by Leeds because the club's owner Massimo Cellino hates the fact the goalkeeper is born on 17 May. Cellino believes 17 is an unlucky number. Daily Starexternal-link

Tottenham striker Emmanuel Adebayor has already begun training for the new Premier League campaign, by practising some new goal celebrations. Metroexternal-link

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