Dortmund fans launch 'Free Shinji' viral campaign

The Manchester United playmaker is yet to make a single appearance under David Moyes this season and the German club’s supporters have taken to Twitter to express their outrage

Borussia Dortmund fans have launched an impassioned Twitter campaign demanding that Manchester United ‘Free Shinji’ Kagawa.

Kagawa was on the bench for the 0-0 draw against Chelsea and has yet to make a competitive appearance under new boss David Moyes, prompting BVB faithful from across the world to voice their frustration via the social networking site.

Tweets using the hashtag #freeshinji began to trend worldwide as a result, with supporters from England, Brazil, Germany and Kagawa’s native Japan all taking part.

The Japan international moved to the Premier League from last year’s Champions League finalists back in 2012 but has found his short career at Old Trafford curtailed by injury and inconsistent form.

Dortmund boss Jurgen Klopp had previously indicated a desire to bring the 24-year-old back to Signal Iduna Park, but admitted defeat over a possible deal this summer.

“[Coming back] is not an option for him this year and not an option for us,” Klopp said. “This was made obvious quite quickly.

“Shinji wants to prove himself at Man Utd this season. I didn’t think the response would be any different but better safe than sorry.”

Kagawa had a tough introduction to English football last season, scoring six goals in just 26 appearances for the Red Devils.

Chelsea swoop for Liverpool target Atsu

Jose Mourinho is set to beat Brendan Rodgers to the €4 million signing of the 21-year-old Porto winger but may be prepared to let the Ghana international leave on loan

By Paul Clennam

Chelsea are set to beat Liverpool to the signature of Porto winger Christian Atsu.

Jose Mourinho, who has already stolen Brazil international playmaker Willian from under the noses of Tottenham this summer, will now look to finalise a move for the highly-rated Ghana international.

Liverpool were in pole position to sign the 21-year-old before displaying a reluctance to meet the Portuguese club’s €4 million asking price for a player who has just a year left to run on his current contract.

Espanyol had also been in the running to sign Atsu and were willing to match the Portuguese club’s valuation but were unable to better the contract offers on the table from the Premier League giants – though they may yet get their hands on the player on a temporary basis this season.

Competition for places is intense at Stamford Bridge, particularly in the wide and attacking midfield positions, even ahead of Atsu’s imminent arrival.

Already this season the likes of Victor Moses and Juan Mata, two players who were crucial to Chelsea’s Europa League success last season, have struggled to force their way into Mourinho’s plans this term.

Mourinho, whose side have begun the season by claiming seven points from a possible nine available and face Bayern Munich in Friday’s European Super Cup, may well be willing to allow Atsu to leave on loan with Espanyol a potential destination.

Pedro flattered by PSG link

The Spain international says it is a privilege to be linked to other clubs, but reiterated his desire to continue winning silverware with the Catalans

Barcelona forward Pedro has admitted he is honoured to have been linked with a move to Paris Saint-Germain, amid reported interest from the Ligue 1 champions.

Reports have suggested les Parisiens had tabled an offer of €40 million for the Spain international, who has a contract at Camp Nou until June 2016.

Blaugrana president Sandro Rosell has since denied those rumours, however, but Pedro revealed he is flattered by the speculation, while committing his future to Barcelona.

The 26-year-old told Marca: “I’m only thinking of triumphing at Barcelona, but it is an honour that other clubs look at you.”

The Spain international has netted 70 times in 214 appearances for the Catalans in his five-year stint since making his debut for the first team.

Simeone not interested in Casillas

The 42-year-old has revealed he is content with his current options between the sticks amid speculation he was lining up a bid for the Spain international

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has ruled out a sensational move for Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas before the transfer window closes.

The Spain international, 32, lost his starting berth to Diego Lopez under Jose Mourinho last term but has been unable to win back his slot since Carlo Ancelotti took charge at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Casillas’s struggles have prompted speculation he could seek a move away from los Blancos in an effort to maintain his position with la Roja ahead of next summer’s World Cup.

Atleti, as well as Arsenal, have reportedly been monitoring his situation, but Simeone says Thibaut Courtois – who is on loan at the club for a third consecutive season – is his number one.

“Courtois is our goalie,” he told reporters. “We also have two other goalkeepers waiting for their chance. So no, we wouldn’t be interested in Iker Casillas.”

Los Rojiblancos face Barcelona in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Wednesday, which kicks off at 22:00 BST.

Wenger confirms Arsenal interest in Mata

The Gunners boss confesses that he “likes” the Chelsea star but doubts whether the Blues would be willing to sell to a Premier League rival and is concerned over fresh fitness fear

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says that he would be keen to sign Juan Mata should Chelsea be prepared to sell to their rivals.

During the Blues’ summer pursuit of Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney, it has been reported that the Spaniard, who has started only once so far this season, is seen as expendable by Jose Mourinho, though the Portuguese has long maintained that he has no intention of losing the crowd favourite.

Speaking after the Gunners’ 2-0 Champions League win over Fenerbahce, Wenger neither confirmed nor denied reports suggesting that Mata’s father watched the game in an executive box and remained coy on whether his injury worries deepen his need to sign players.

“I have heard, like you, that Juan Mata may be on the market,” he told the press. “I like him [but] there is a reluctance in England to sell to each other.

“We have to see how bad the injuries are but I can’t tell you more than that.

“We are on the market – the whole world knows that now – but I can’t be more creative than that because nothing has been concluded yet.”

Wenger also admits that he does not know whether Aaron Ramsey will be fit to face Tottenham on Sunday. The midfielder picked up a groin problem late on against the Turkish giants, having scored both of his side’s goals as the Gunners cruised into the group stage, triumphing 5-0 on aggregate.

Lukas Podolski was withdrawn with a hamstring injury early in the second half, while Jack Wilshere’s ankle problem also flared up in the closing stages after some hefty challenges from Fenerbahce defenders.

“That’s a negative – we paid the price because we lost Podolski, I don’t know how Ramsey is or how Wilshere will respond to his ankle problem,” Wenger lamented. “The two tackles on Wilshere [late on] were disappointing.
 
“Podolski will definitely be out for 21 days and we have to check on Ramsey’s groin [on Wednesday].

“Jack should be alright for Sunday and I’m hopeful on Aaron but I don’t know how bad it is.

“I wanted to take Wilshere off. I would have played with 10 men, because they had to score five goals in 10 minutes. Even with 10 men, we could have avoided that but he told the physio he wanted to go on.”