Romeu: Barcelona striker Villa would be welcome at Chelsea

Chelsea midfielder Oriol Romeu has tipped Barcelona’s out-of-favour striker David Villa to join the Premier League club, saying he would be welcome at Stamford Bridge.

Speculation has been rife over the forward’s future of late, with several clubs linked with Spain’s leading goalscorer – including fellow Premier League outfit Swansea City.

The 31-year-old forward has been in and out of the Catalan’s starting line-up since returning from a six-month absence after breaking his leg in December 2011.

Barca sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta stated this week that the club had no intention of letting Villa leave, but Romeu would be delighted if his fellow Spaniard was to join the European champions.

Romeu told Spanish radio show Esports Cope: “I don’t know what Villa’s situation is, but if a great player like him comes, the record goalscorer with the national team, he would be welcomed and we would be happy.”

Albiol wants 'best in the world' Ronaldo to remain at Real Madrid

Raul Albiol - Real Madrid

Raul Albiol – Real Madrid

Raul Albiol wants Cristiano Ronaldo to remain at Real Madrid as he considers the forward to be the best footballer in the world.

Although the Portuguese star has not intimated a move away from Santiago Bernabeu, his ‘unhappy’ episode in September showed that his future is far from concrete.

And Los Blancos defender Albiol said he hopes that the former Manchester United forward remains a Madrid player for the foreseeable future.

“I don’t know if he’ll renew his contract or not, but Cristiano Ronaldo is the best in the world,” Albiol told reporters at a promotional event in Valencia on Thursday. “And we want him to be with us for as long as possible.”

Albiol also spoke out against the furore that has been caused by club captain Iker Casillas being dropped by Jose Mourinho for Madrid’s 3-2 defeat by Malaga in the final match before the current winter break.

“After 10 years as the No.1 keeper, the day Casillas is on the bench is a surprise for everyone,” the defender admitted.

“But at the same time, the controversy it’s generated has been too much. Even Iker said so.

“We should forget about these things that come from outside and work as hard as possible to win trophies in 2013.”

Iniesta: Villa is a key player for Barcelona

Andres Iniesta has called for Barcelona to keep hold of “key player” David Villa in the January transfer window.

The Spain international has been linked with a move to the Premier League at the turn of 2013, with Chelsea mentioned as a possible destination for the ex-Valencia star.

However, Iniesta believes that Villa is important to the Blaugrana succeeding this season and hopes that he remains at Camp Nou.

“I don’t know if that’s a possibility,” he told reporters, when asked about the sale of Villa in January at a ceremony to celebrate the renaming of Albacete’s training ground after him.

“I don’t think [it will happen]. Personally I wouldn’t like it, because Villa is a key player.”

Barca currently sit top of La Liga having forged an intimidating 16-point lead over their perennial rivals Real Madrid.

And despite Tito Vilanova side’s dominance, Villa has been unable to break into the first-team and has been limited to appearances off the bench since returning from injury at the start of the campaign.

Spartak Moscow deny De Boer approach

Spartak Moscow general manager Valeri Karpin has denied any attempt to lure Ajax boss Frank de Boer to the club.

The Dutch side’s sporting director Marc Overmars told De Telegraaf that De Boer had been offered the head coach role, with a figure of €6 million a year mooted.

Karpin has taken temporary charge of the Russian club ever since Unai Emery’s sacking in November, and he laughed off the suggestion that De Boer had been offered the job permanently.

“I was surprised by the news that I, as general manager, contacted Frank de Boer for the job,” Valery Karpin told SovSport.

“To that alleged salary proposal I could only smile. Let’s be clear about this: De Boer has never been approached by anyone at Spartak Moscow.”

The Russian club were recently knocked out of the Champions League having been in the same group as Barcelona, Celtic and Benfica.

Mainz defender Kirchhoff agrees terms with Schalke

Schalke have agreed terms with Mainz defender Jan Kirchhoff, can exclusively reveal.

The Gelsenkirchen club’s general manager, Horst Heldt, had admitted that there was interest in the Germany Under-21 international, whose current contract runs out in the summer.

And Schalke have moved swiftly ahead of the January transfer window to ensure the centre-back is willing to sign a deal which will keep him at the Bundesliga side until 2016.

A serious knee injury to key defender Kyriakos Papadopoulos has caused the club – who currently sit seventh in the German top division – to react by splashing out at the start of 2013.

Christoph Moritz is believed to be wanted by Mainz, raising the possibility of the Bundesliga clubs sorting out a transfer exchange deal during the winter transfer window.

A switch to Schalke would offer Kirchhoff the opportunity of Champions League football this season too, as the squad finished top of Group B ahead of Arsenal, Olympiakos and Montpellier.

They will face Galatasaray in the last 16 of the elite European competition.