Tassotti hails Honda's instant impact at AC Milan

The former Rossoneri full-back was enthused by the Japan international’s first goal for the club, but dedicated a much-needed victory to sacked coach Massimiliano Allegri

AC Milan stand-in coach Mauro Tassotti hailed Keisuke Honda after Wednesday night’s Coppa Italia victory over Spezia.

After impressing as a substitute on his Rossoneri debut at the weekend, against Sassuolo, the Japan international, who arrived from CSKA Moscow earlier this month, was afforded his first start in the last-16 clash at San Siro and turned in a fine performance, netting the third goal in a 3-1 win.

“Honda did well, but he needs to up the rhythm in his game,” Tassotti is quoted as saying by the club’s official website. “Technically, though, he’s very good and he scored a good goal.”

Meanwhile, Tassotti dedicated the victory to former coach Massimiliano Allegri, who was sacked on Monday and will be formally replaced at the helm by Clarence Seedorf for this weekend’s Serie A clash with Verona.

“This is a win for the club,” he stated. “We have to play in Europe next season and this looks like the easiest road to get us there.

“But this is a win for Allegri as well. I’m personally very tied to Allegri. He was here for three and a half years and I feel a level of responsibility with what happened as well. Just as I did the year that we won the title [in 2011], too.”

As for Seedorf, Tassotti, who will work alongside the Dutchman for the remainder of the season, said he will help the new boss out in any way he can, but acknowledged that the former Rossoneri midfielder will already have a detailed knowledge of the Milan squad.

“I don’t know what I’ll say to Seedorf,” he mused. “He knows the team and many of them played with him as well.

“I don’t think he ever took his eyes off this club.”

Hummels plays down significance of Spanish classes: I'm not thinking of joining Barcelona

The Germany international has dismissed the suggestion that he is preparing to move to Camp Nou, while also claiming that BVB will cope with the loss of Robert Lewandowski

Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels has played down the significance of the fact that he is learning Spanish, insisting that he is not hoping for a move to Barcelona.

The Germany international is under contract to BVB until 2017 but has been repeatedly linked with a big-money switch to Camp Nou.

However, Hummels insists that the is going nowhere for now, arguing that his sole focus at the moment is on making a successful return from an ankle injury at the end of the month.

“I have been learning Spanish since seventh grade,” the 25-year-old told Bild. “But I’m honestly not thinking about [Barcelona].

“My goal is to be back for the game against Eintracht Braunschweig [on January 31]. I want to have gone through a week of full training before my return, in order to find my rhythm.”

Dortmund have struggled domestically in Hummels’ absence and currently sit fourth, 12 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

The Bavarians also recently announced that Robert Lewandowski will be moving from Signal Iduna Park to the Allianz Arena this summer – but Hummels sees no grounds for pessimism for BVB.

“Every year at least one player has left,” the centre-half mused. “I already knew in 2012 about the fact that Robert would be leaving us.

“Plus, our bosses have always found excellent replacements and they will again this year.”

Hummels also dismissed the suggestion that Dortmund are currently paying the price for failing to strengthen their squad adequately last summer.

“This is totally wrong,” he countered. “If you are to compare us with Bayern, you should also take into account the financial resources of both clubs.

“Bayern have been outstanding but they have a few hundred million more than us to put together a squad.

“We have no debt and have also bought strong players. And, even though it might always sound like an excuse, [Dortmund’s struggles] are clearly due to the many injuries we have had. Almost all of those injured were leaders with a lot of influence on our game.”

Tottenham demand €12 million for Napoli target Capoue

The Serie A side are favourites to land the Frenchman with Spurs boss Tim Sherwood willing to cash in despite the 25-year-old, who only arrived in the summer

By Greg Stobart

Tottenham are willing to sell Napoli target Etienne Capoue but only if they receive a fee in the region of €12 million.

The France international has struggled to make an impact at White Hart Lane, making just six starts for the club in the Premier League since his summer move from Toulouse.

His progress has been hampered by an ankle injury sustained in the 1-0 defeat to Arsenal back in August although Tim Sherwood is not convinced by the 25-year-old midfielder and his ability to battle for a regular first-team place.

Rafael Benitez’s Napoli are the clear favourites to seal a deal for Capoue, and are understood to be ready to lodge an €11m bid plus additional bonuses to tempt Spurs’ hand.

The Serie A club, who agonisingly missed out on a place in the Champions League knockout stages, are on course to finish in the top four in Italy once again this season and Benitez is keen to add to his ranks in January.

The former Liverpool boss insists he has been assured by president Aurelio De Laurentiis that the club will make “one or two” signings this week, with the likes of Daniel Agger and Javier Mascherano, as well as Capoue, having been linked.

Spurs, for their part, are currently swelled with midfield options and the emergence of youngster Nabil Bentaleb, who has started the last two games alongside Mousa Dembele, has done little to help Capoue’s cause.

Brazilian duo Sandro and Paulinho are also close to first-team returns after hamstring and ankle injuries respectively, and Sherwood has told senior club officials the squad is overloaded in middle of the pitch.

Capoue, who has earned seven caps for his country, did feature in the 2-1 victory over Manchester United at the beginning of the month but has since been an unused substitute in the most recent fixtures against Arsenal and Crystal Palace respectively.

Fiorentina sign Matri on loan from AC Milan

The Viola have turned to the former Juventus forward to strengthen their attack following the loss of star striker Giuseppe Rossi to a knee injury

Fiorentina have confirmed the signing of Alessandro Matri on loan from AC Milan for the remainder of the season.

The Italy international, who began his professional career at San Siro, rejoined the Rossoneri from Juventus for a reported €12 million last summer.

However, Matri managed just one goal in 15 Serie A appearances for Milan and will now spend the rest of the 2013-14 campaign at the Artemio Franchi.

“Fiorentina announce that they have acquired, on a temporary basis, the rights to Alessandro Matri of AC Milan,” read a statement on the Viola‘s official website.

The Florence-based side were in need of attacking cover in light of the recent knee injury suffered by star striker Giuseppe Rossi.

It has been reported in Italy that Matri, who will be formally presented to the press on Thursday afternoon, could soon be joined at Fiorentina by Manchester United midfielder Anderson.

Cruzeiro reject bid from unnamed English club for Brazilian starlet Everton Ribeiro

The agent of the 24-year-old says a Premier League side has made an offer for the playmaker’s services, though his club are reluctant to sell and are holding out for a higher bid

An unnamed Premier League club have had a €10 million bid for Everton Ribeiro rejected by Cruzeiro, according to the player’s agent.

The 24-year-old has been linked with a move to England in the past, with Cruzeiro forced to dismiss reports that Manchester United had agreed a fee for the former Cortiba man in November.

Ribeiro’s agent, Robson Ferreira, refused to name the side chasing his client’s signature, and, despite the initial offer being rejected, is keen for further talks to see if an agreement can be reached.

“We’ve taken a bid of €10m for Everton Ribeiro to Cruzeiro,” Ferreira told Lancenet. “The interested club is kept secret so as to not disturb or disrupt negotiations, after all they are in the middle of their season.

“We took the proposal to Cruzeiro, we talked and arranged a new meeting for the next few days. The club want him to stay and the player also wants to help Cruzeiro in the Libertadores. We are trying to unite all interests.”

Cruzeiro director of football Alexandre Mattos, meanwhile, is keen to hold onto Ribeiro after confirming a new bid, and insists it would take a large offer for the Brazilian club to consider selling – and they would also need to find a replacement first.

“Everton was one of the players that came to Cruzeiro with potential and, together with his team-mates, turned that into reality,” said Mattos.

“He won individual awards. He is happy, but there is no offer that makes the president change his stance. Yesterday one more arrived from an English club to which Cruzeiro said ‘no’ immediately.

“It could be that an offer arrives that Cruzeiro understands would be irresponsible not to accept. The important thing is knowing to get a suitable replacement. When something happens either way, we will have a replacement identified.”