Drogba issue needed clarifying, says Schalke chief Heldt

The German club’s general manager defended their decision to question the Ivorian’s eligibility, and it has been revealed that Edu’s contract has been terminated by mutual consent

Schalke general manager Horst Heldt insists that the club were well within their rights to enquire about Didier Drogba’s Champions League eligibility after their 1-1 draw at Galatasaray.

The Bundesliga club revealed their intention to find out whether or not the Ivorian was permitted to feature in European competition after the last-16 first leg had been played, as the striker had recently arrived at his new Turkish team in controversial circumstances from Shanghai Shenhua.

Uefa, however, confirmed on Wednesday that it has rejected the Gelsenkirchen side’s protests, though Heldt defended Schalke’s Drogba complaint.

“It was important to get legal certainty,” he told reporters at a press conference on Thursday afternoon.

“We want to beat Galatasaray sportingly, now that Uefa has responded. We will accept that.”

Schalke also confirmed on Thursday that Edu has left the club after the two parties scrapped his contract by mutual consent, and Heldt wished the former Mainz attacker – who has been on loan at Greuther Furth this season – all the best for the future.

“Edu approached us with the desire to leave,” Heldt said. “We’ve thanked him for his commitment to Schalke and we wish Edu well, personally and privately, for the future.”

Edu joined in January 2010 but has made just one appearance in the past two seasons, and, though his contract at the Bundesliga side was due to expire in the summer, he has joined Chinese Super League club Liaoning Whowin.

Granero not targeting QPR exit

The 25-year-old playmaker has endured a difficult first season in England since moving to the club in the summer from Real Madrid but insists that he is not thinking about leaving

QPR midfielder Esteban Granero is adamant that he has no interest in looking for another club and is simply focused on trying to help the side avoid relegation this season.

Harry Redknapp’s team remain rooted to the bottom of the league table, seven points adrift of safety and with only 11 games remaining to try to beat the drop, with speculation surrounding the futures of several members of the squad should they go down.

But Granero argued to the club’s official website: “I am not the type of player who wants to play for many teams and move every transfer window.

“I like to get involved with the club, with the team, with everything. I have only played for two teams [before QPR] in my career; one is the team of my life, Real Madrid, and one is Getafe, who I was with on loan.

“I am not thinking about the future. In the summer I signed a four-year contract because I wanted to spend four years here and I still want to spend four years here.

“I do not want to be changing teams all the time. I am happy at QPR. This is a good club for me. I feel now this club forms part of me and I am just thinking about playing these games and trying to get out of the relegation zone.

“Then we can face a new season with new opportunities and try to start better from the beginning to make sure it is a better season.”

With Saturday’s trip away to fellow strugglers Southampton earmarked as an opportunity to pick up some much-needed points, Granero admits that, even though he has settled in well at the club, he will regard this season as a failure if they are relegated.

He added: “Apart from the results, everything is perfect! But when you are bottom of the league it is hard to relax and be happy because you are suffering for the club, for the supporters, and for yourself. 

“We still have the chance to get out of this situation and if we manage this, I will remember this as a great season. We have some very difficult games ahead and this is a big challenge for us. We have to be ready for it.”

Jol remains hopeful over Hangeland contract talks

The Fulham boss believes that the Norway international’s future could finally be resolved before the season’s end, stating that dialogue between the two parties is underway

Fulham manager Martin Jol believes that the club still stand a good chance of agreeing a new deal to keep hold of centre-back Brede Hangeland.

The 31-year-old defender, who first arrived at Craven Cottage back in 2008 from Copenhagen, is out of contract at the end of the season and is currently free to negotiate with other interested parties.

Nevertheless, the Norway international has been a key figure for the club again this season, making 23 Premier League appearances, and Jol hopes that a compromise can be agreed in the near future.

“We are talking to quite a few players [about contract extensions],” the Cottagers boss told reporters.

“He is one of them. It’s about him but we are talking so it’s a positive thing and he wants to stay here. That’s good.

“So there is no news now but hopefully [there will be] in the next couple of weeks.”

Fulham travel away to Sunderland on Saturday and Jol admits that he was interested in signing striker Steven Fletcher in the summer before he moved to Martin O’Neill’s side instead.

“Yes,” he replied when asked if he had moved for the Scot, “but he was quite expensive.

“Sunderland are well-known for getting these players in. They did that with Connor Wickham. They paid a lot of money for him.

“You could say Fletcher is doing well but why shouldn’t he be? He is a terrific No.9.”

Jovetic should join Juventus, says Vucinic

The Bianconeri striker has called upon his employers to make a move for his fellow Montenegrin, who was heavily linked with a switch to Turin over the summer

Juventus striker Mirko Vucinic has called for the club to sign Montenegro team-mate Stevan Jovetic from Fiorentina.

The Bianconeri were heavily linked with the Viola star during pre-season as they looked to bolster their forward line, and the former Roma man would love to see his compatriot move to Turin.

“We play close together in the national side and we often switch positions with each other,” he told Tuttosport.

“I’d like to do that at Juve as he is a countryman and is a really strong player. However, there is Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici here who work on transfers, it is up to them to decide.”

Juventus face Napoli on Friday, with just six points separating the two sides at the top of Serie A, but Vucinic does not think the clash will prove decisive.

“It won’t decide anything as the race is still long,” he said.

“It’s also a lot harder in the second half of the season, as the sides who are fighting to stay up really start to give it their all and it is difficult to take on anybody.

“I know what the atmosphere will be like at the San Paolo, but I’m not worried by it. We’ll just have to react to it like we did in Glasgow against Celtic – it’ll pretty much be like that.”

Vucinic rubbished the possibility of a switch to the Premier League, and added that he is happy with life at Juventus currently.

“I don’t think about my future,” he said. “I live one day at a time, but I’m happy in Turin. I’m not interested [in a move to England].”

'The treble is no illusion for Bayern' – Franz Roth

The former Roten midfielder has backed their chances of success this season following Wednesday’s win over Borussia Dortmund

Bayern Munich legend Franz Roth believes the club have a very real chance of winning the treble this season after sealing a place in the DFB-Pokal semi-final with a 1-0 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

The Bavarians currently hold a 17-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga, and have all but sealed a place in the last eight of the Champions League with a 3-1 away victory over Arenal in the round-of-16 first leg.

“[Wednesday] was a very intense game with a deserved winner in Bayern. This season, Dortmund are too small for FCB, and with the form they showed on Wednesday, the treble for Bayern is no illusion,” he wrote in his column for TZ.

“It is clear that this cup match will not be the last explosive duo between the sides. Maybe they will soon meet in the Champions League.

“These two teams will come to dominate German football. Through the last two league titles, they [Dortmund] have incited Bayern to improve. This is a positive rivalry that will make both teams better.”

Bayern have been heavily linked with a move for striker Robert Lewandowski, who will not extend his current Dortmund contract.

Although Franz Beckenbauer claimed Bayern do not need to sign Lewandowski due to the forward options already at their disposal, Roth insists that the club cannot have too many players of such a calibre.

“When the calibre of Lewandowski is on the market, then you have to strike,” he added.

I do not believe [Mario] Mandzukic and [Mario] Gomez will be around forever. My opinion, you cannot have too much quality at this level.”