Watzke: Dortmund to evaluate squad over winter break

Borussia Dortmund sporting director Hans-Joachim Watzke has stated that the club will evaluate their current roster of players over the winter break and bring in quality squad reinforcements.

The 53-year-old is of the opinion that the club lacks enough quality in depth to face the challenge of three competitions and hinted that some of the fringe footballers at BVB might be shown the door.

“If we want to be in the first places of the table permanently, we have to improve in terms of the players 12 to 18,” Watzke told Sport Bild.

“There are two games left. Afterwards we will analyse the first half of the season.”

Croatian attacker Ivan Perisic has been rumoured to be at the top of the possible departures list after a public fall-out with coach Jurgen Klopp earlier this season.

Meanwhile, Basel defender Aleksandar Dragovic is reportedly on the radar of the German champions, meaning Brazilian Felipe Santana’s spell with BVB might be coming to an end.

Fulham ready to test Liverpool resolve with Henderson bid

By Wayne Veysey | Chief Correspondent

Fulham are preparing to make another move to sign Jordan Henderson in January after failing to land him in the summer, Goal.com understands.

The Liverpool midfielder has only been on the fringes of Brendan Rodgers’ team since the Northern Irishman took charge.

Fulham were offered Henderson in part-exchange for Clint Dempsey during the summer but the England international rejected the move and decided to fight for his place at Anfield.

Fulham are ready to test Liverpool’s resolve, and Henderson’s desire to play regular first-team football, in the forthcoming window.

Martin Jol wants to add greater youth and dynamism to a midfield that was decimated by the departures of Mousa Dembele, Clint Dempsey, Danny Murphy and Dickson Etuhu in the summer.

Fulham are expected to be busy in the January window as they attempt to beef up a squad that Jol feels is light in certain areas, particularly central midfield and on the attacking flanks.

As revealed by Goal.com, Ghana international Derek Boateng was at the club’s Motspur Park headquarters last week to negotiate a January transfer.  

It is believed there a several hurdles to jump in order to complete a deal even though the midfield anchorman is out of favour at Ukrainian club Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk.

Jol is also keen to sign Arsenal outcast Andrey Arshavin, although the Russian would need to take a salary cut to move to Craven Cottage, where no player is paid more than €61,000-a-week by the club.

Henderson joined Liverpool from Sunderland for an initial €18m in the summer of 2011 but he has struggled to justify the fee.

He was a regular under Kenny Dalglish, starting 41 matches last season, and was a late call-up to England’s Euro 2012 squad.

Despite Lucas Leiva being absent through injury for most of the current campaign, Henderson has started just two of Liverpool’s 16 league games, playing most of his football in the Europa League when the big guns have been rested.

“He’s understanding what his role is, and the importance that he has within the group,” Rodgers said last weekend. “And he’s done very well.

“He’s a terrific lad, and the most important thing with him is he wants to learn. He works very, very hard at his game and he’s been coming on in games and starting games for us and doing very well.”

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Rafa Marquez signs with Leon

Mexico defender Rafael Marquez is back home in his native country after signing a two-year deal with Leon.

The move comes just hours after being released by the New York Red Bulls on Thursday morning.

Goal.com reported earlier this week that Marquez was in Mexico City to finalise the deal, but the one major hurdle in completing the move sooner was his contract obligations with the Red Bulls.

“I’m sure that our fans will give Leon’s newest player, Rafael Marquez, the best welcome,” Leon president Jesus Martinez wrote on Twitter.

Marquez, who was one of the Red Bulls’ three Designated Players, (a player they can sign outside of the team’s salary cap) had been a disappointment since joining the MLS team from Barcelona in 2010. He played just 35 of a possible 73 games while earning $4.6 million (€3.5m), the second-highest salary in MLS.

The Red Bulls’ new sporting director Andy Roxburgh said it was a mutual decision to part ways with Marquez.

“This decision has been made in the best interests of both parties concerned,” Roxburgh said. “Rafa has accomplished a great deal during his career and is a top quality player. We want to thank him for his service to the Red Bulls and wish him the best of luck in the next stage of his career.”

Marquez began his career in Mexico with Atlas before playing in Europe with Monaco and Barcelona. He also has 106 caps with Mexico.

Wenger to be given 'considerable resources' in January, says Arsenal Supporters' Trust

The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust (AST) say they have been informed that Arsene Wenger will be given “considerable resources” in January as the Gunners seek to salvage their season.

Arsenal qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League with considerable ease, but their quest to end a seven-year trophy drought came crashing down at Valley Parade as League Two Bradford City eliminated them with a dramatic 3-2 penalty shootout win in the Capital One Cup.

The AST met with chief executive Ivan Gazidis on Wednesday to discuss the club’s perceived lack of direction, but they were assured that the Frenchman will be given the financial backing required to compete, with the club eyeing moves for several players including Pepe Reina and Wilfried Zaha.

“There is plenty of money there,” Trust spokesman Tim Payton told BBC Sport.

“That was the message that Ivan and his finance director were giving this evening.

“He stayed for over two hours. He apologised for the result [at Bradford] and said it was not good enough and had to be better.

“The Arsenal fans were dissatisfied with the strength of the squad and particularly don’t understand whether there were resources to be used.

“I specifically raised this with the finance director and his colleague and they were in no doubt there is considerable resources available to the manager ready to spend when he has identified the players he wants to sign.

“It’s crystal clear that Arsenal fans need to wait until January for Arsene Wenger to use the cheque book he has been given well.”

Wenger’s position has come under increasing scrutiny in light on recent results, but the Trust still has complete faith in the club’s most successful ever manager.

“Lots of people have asked me whether Arsene Wenger should go,” said Payton.

“He certainly needs to change and improve, spend the money he’s got, strengthen the set-up around him and the results will be the judge.”

Yaya Toure keen to finish career at Manchester City

Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure has claimed he would love nothing more than to finish his career at the Etihad Stadium.

The powerful Ivorian has become one of the most sought-after players in Europe following a series of robust performances in the middle of the park and he was instrumental in City’s title winning side last season.

Roberto Mancini’s side have endured a difficult start to the defence of their title, suffering a last-gasp 3-2 defeat to neighbours Manchester United whilst also slumping out of the Champions League without a win in Group D, but that has not put the former Barcelona man off.

“I would love to end my career here,” Toure told the club’s official website.
“Nobody knows what the next step is in football and I believe that if you stop dreaming, you should stop playing football, but this is where I want to be.

“When I first arrived at City, every time I went to sleep I would dream about us winning something and about us being the best team in whatever competition we take part in.

“I believe I have to work harder all the time to improve and stay at the top level with this club. I will give my all every time I play and I will never forget how the fans have treated me here so nothing would give me greater pleasure than to finish my career as a Manchester City player.”

Toure picked up a knock in the defeat against United on Sunday, but is likely to return to the midfield at St James’ Park, where his double last season put City within touching distance of their first top-flight title since 1967-68.

Mancini’s side memorably clinched the title in the dying seconds of the season, but Toure has set his sights on European domination in spite of their early elimination this time round.

“We want to make history and that was part of my plan when I first signed – to make history – and we’ve made a start but there is so many more chapters to be written,” added the Ivorian.

“I’m really enjoying my football here and I’m playing in front of the most amazing fans I’ve ever come across.

“Ending my playing career at City would be unbelievable, but I know it won’t be easy because we want to win everything and the club is always looking to improve.

“There is no other place I would rather finish with and I want to continue winning titles and trophies with City. I believe we are just at the beginning of our journey.”