Yanga-Mbiwa extends Montpellier stay

Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa has ended speculation over his future by signing a two-year contract extension with Montpellier.

The France international’s previous contract was due to expire next summer and it was rumoured Italian giants AC Milan were set to make a move for the centre-back.

However, Yanga-Mbiwa will now stay in France after an official statement was released by the club confirming his new deal.

“Montpellier and the club’s board are very pleased to announce the contract extension of captain Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa.

“His deal was due to expire in June 2013, but the France international has chosen to continue the adventure here for a further two seasons. He is now linked to MHSC until June 2015.”

Last summer the Rossoneri made an offer of up to €6 million for the 23-year-old, with Paillade president Louis Nicollin responding with a famously comical retort.

“Kojak never called me,” he told Canal+ back in July.

“This makes me laugh. Those guys just got out of bed. They sold a guy for €45 million euros [Thiago Silva to Paris Saint-Germain] and they want to steal one of ours.

“If they offered €25m or €30m then fair enough, but from what I understood they merely come in with €5m or €6m. [Adriano Galliani should] go and watch movies and not hassle us.”

Luis Suarez commits future to Liverpool amid Manchester City talk

Liverpool striker Luis Suarez has reiterated his desire to stay at the club, amidst rumoured interest from Manchester City.

The Uruguayan has been in fine form so far this campaign, notching 11 goals in 16 appearances, despite Brendan Rodgers’ men suffering a mixed start to the season.

Suarez’s recent performances had led to suggestions that Roberto Mancini was set to test the Reds’ resolve with £40 million January move, but the forward has now underlined his commitment to the Anfield outfit.

He told the club’s official website: “I have a very long contract here and it’s a dream come true to be playing at a club like Liverpool because, as I’ve said, as a boy I dreamt of playing for a team like this.

“Now I’m here, it’s all about enjoying myself and trying to be here for as many years as I can, because I’m at a club where I’m very happy, my family is happy, I’ve got fantastic teammates and a manager from whom I’m learning so much.

“As a player, it’s vital to have the backing of your manager and so I think that the confidence Brendan is showing in myself and the team as a whole is very important and it’s down to us to repay that trust out there on the pitch.

“Let’s hope we can keep improving. I’m working well and I’m very happy at a club where I’ve always wanted to be. At a club to whom I’m very grateful for the trust everyone is showing in me – a club with amazing supporters and teammates who are all great people.

“The other important thing is that the squad is very united. In spite of not getting the results we would have liked, we have a great spirit of togetherness and let’s hope we can continue to pick up points.”

The 25-year-old has regularly been subjected to booing from opposition supporters, largely due to his eight-match ban for racially abusing Patrice Evra last season.

But he insists that such things do not affect him and went on to hail the support he has received from Liverpool fans since joining the club.

“I think you need to really know a person before you criticise them or speak out about them,” he continued.

“I think sometimes the opposition fans are more interested in booing Luis Suarez for the problems he had or because he’s gone down for something than they are in their own team!

“I think that each set of supporters should just worry about their own team and leave their opponents well alone, just like the Liverpool fans do.

“I think our fans are the perfect example and always show how to help the team by wanting to get behind the side. It doesn’t matter who the opposition are, the only thing they want is for their team to win by giving a lift to the players with their support.

“That’s what the other clubs’ fans need to do – get behind their own side and not just think about Suarez, because all that does is motivate me even more to do well.”

The Salto-born forward scored the equaliser in the Reds’ 1-1 draw with Chelsea on Sunday but insists nothing but three points will do when Liverpool take on Wigan at Anfield next time round.

“Chelsea was a result that was neither good nor bad,” he added. “I guess we really need to be picking up as many points as we can, given that we haven’t got as many points on the board that a club like Liverpool would expect to have at this stage.

“Wigan is an absolute must-win fixture. It’s a very important game for us to gain in confidence for the matches ahead and to get stronger here at Anfield, which is where we need to make the difference.”

Urrutia rules out Llorente sale

Jose Urrutia has issued a ‘hands-off’ warning to clubs considering a January swoop for Fernando Llorente.

The Athletic Bilbao striker was linked with a number of Europe’s biggest sides last summer and his lack of form has led to more speculation he is set to depart during the winter transfer window.

However, Urrutia has made it clear the club have no intention of selling Llorente – who has attracted suitors in England and Italy – while admitting that talks over a new deal for defender Fernando Amorebieta have not ran smoothly.

“There will not be any movement in the winter. The team is much more competitive with Aritz [Aduriz] and [Fernando] Llorente in attack,” he told reporters.

“There is no progress, but we are expecting a positive response [from Amorebieta’s representatives] soon. We know that the player wants to renew.”

Europa League runners-up last season, Athletic have struggled this campaign and have mustered just four Liga wins to date.

But, Urrutia is remaining positive ahead of his side’s clash with Real Madrid on Saturday, while leaping to the defence of teenager Iker Muniain.

“This time last year we had the same number of points in the league. The team has had a number of issues to contend with but we still have great passion,” he continued.

“Real Madrid are favourites but you never know how the game will unfold.

“Anyone can make a mistake. At his age, Iker shows great character. It is normal with very young players.”

Pinto: I am happy at Barcelona

Barcelona goalkeeper Jose Pinto has confirmed that he is content with being second choice for the Catalan club.

The 37-year old has rarely featured for Tito Vilanova’s side, playing second fiddle to Victor Valdes since his arrival from Celta Vigo in 2008, but he has reiterated that he is not looking to move away from the club, despite his contract running out in June 2013.

“I am very calm about the situation,” he told RAC1.

“It is the same as every year. Since I arrived at the club, the journalists have been talking about how I would never get near the team but I do not care. I am still giving everything that I have to give.

“My family is very happy in Barcelona. I have a Catalan child so, if the club want to keep me, that would be great. “

Pinto was also happy to talk about his current position at Barcelona and how he has made himself as first choice keeper for the Copa del Rey fixtures.

He added: “It would be wrong for me to say that I’m Tito Vilanova’s No.1 for the Cup.

“He has trusted me so far but I am not saying anything as it is up to the coach and he chooses who he feels is best for each game.

“Victor has also played in the cup and I have to earn my place in the team, just like the rest of the players.”

Lewis Holtby demands are false, states agent

EXCLUSIVE
By Hassan Haji Talib

Lewis Holtby’s agent has confirmed that his client has not demanded a €6 million per year contract from Schalke which is being reported.

The 22-year old will be out of contract in June of next year, and despite negotiations dragging out longer than the player is happy with, the figures being suggesting are completely false.

“These numbers have been plucked from the air,” Noack told Goal.com’s Hassan Haji Talib.

“Ultimately, it was only myself, Horst Heldt and Gerhard Zuber (sports director of Schalke) sitting at the negotiating table. To my knowledge, no media representatives were there, so how would they know?

“The press are building it up more than they should. It could be the club trying to add some pressure because if I put myself in their position, then I can understand that they might want to panic both the player and his agent. We have seen this in the past.”

When asked how Holtby is dealing with the circumstances, Noack explained that although he is affected by the breakdown, his mind is still very focused on playing for the club.

“I would be lying if I said that does not affect him. Lewis and I both know what we spoke about with the club and I am fully convinced that he can be professional about the situation and focus on the his job.”

The Germany international has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal and Liverpool being potential suitors of die Konigsblauen playmaker, but Schalke will be keen to hold onto their man.