BEIRUT

Football

Deschamps takes reins at French national team, faces task of uniting squad

AC Milan are reportedly considering taking Carroll on loan. (AFP/Glyn Kirk)

BEIRUT: Didier Deschamps is the new manager of the French national team, with the former Marseilles and Juventus manager replacing Laurent Blanc who quit after France’s exit at the quarterfinals of Euro 2012.

“Noel Le Graet, president of the French Football Federation, and Didier Deschamps have finished their discussions and have reached an agreement for the nomination of Mr. Deschamps as France coach,” an FFF statement said.

Deschamps captained the French side who won the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000, and enjoyed a glittering playing career before moving into club management with Monaco in 2001.

The 43-year-old won a host of trophies during his time with Marseilles, Juventus, Chelsea and Valencia, winning two Champions League titles, five league titles, as well as the FA Cup.

Deschamp’s first job will be to unite a squad that has suffered from division and controversy at the past two tournaments, as Les Bleus attempt to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

France have been drawn in a tough qualification group containing current World and European champions Spain.

The Frenchman’s first foray into management saw him lead an unfancied Monaco side to the Champions League final in 2004, before leaving to take over at Juventus.

He brought the French title back to Marseille in 2010, but his last season with the club saw l’OM struggle, only managing to finish 10th in Ligue 1.

His first match in charge of France will be on August 15 – a friendly against Uruguay.

Arsenal are preparing to hijack Chelsea’s bid to sign Wigan’s Nigerian playmaker Victor Moses, with the Gunners believed to be preparing an offer should England winger Theo Walcott refuse to sign an extension to his contract.

Walcott has so far refused to commit his future to the north London club, with Arsenal fearing the player could follow contract-rebel Robin van Persie in seeking a move away from the club.

With just 12 months remaining on his current deal, Walcott is reported to be demanding 100,000 pounds ($155,000) a week from the club, with the Gunners only willing to offer 70,000 pounds.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has apparently decided to cash in on the England winger, with English daily Metro reporting that the Frenchman has his sights set on Moses.

The 21-year-old has been linked with a move to London rivals Chelsea in recent weeks, after the Nigerian international made it clear to Wigan that he had no intention of signing a contract extension.

Real Madrid are determined to fight off interest from Chelsea and Manchester United for Tottenham midfielder Luka Modric, with the Spanish champions willing to include Portuguese defender Ricardo Carvalho as part of the deal.

Madrid are confident that Modric would prefer a move to Spain rather than remaining in the Premier League, and believe this gives them an edge in the race to sign the Croatian playmaker.

Spanish daily AS reports that the club are willing to offer 28 million pounds in addition to former Chelsea defender Carvalho for Modric.

A deal including Turkish international Nuri Sahin fell through after the midfielder refused to consider a move to London.

Spurs are on the brink of signing Ajax captain Jan Vertonghen after Tottenham announced they had agreed terms with the Amsterdam club.

The Belgian defender has been tracked since last season, and the 25-year-old is due to complete a medical before completing a deal valued at 9.5 million pounds.

“We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement with Ajax for the transfer of Jan Vertonghen, subject to a medical,” a statement on the club's website read.

“The 2011-12 campaign was the Belgium international's most successful season to date – being named Ajax captain at the start and going on to lead the Dutch side to their second straight league title.”

Vertonghen will join a side whose defense has recently been depleted following the departures of Ledley King and Ryan Nelson.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew has revealed he is doing all in his power to keep Senegalese striker Demba Ba at the club.

After a magnificent debut campaign with the Magpies, during which the forward scored 16 goals, Ba had been frequently linked with a move away from the North East.

“I want Demba to stay,” Pardew said.

“He’s a Newcastle player and all I'm focusing on is making sure he’s a Newcastle player next season.”

Arsenal, Tottenham, Chelsea and Man United have all been reported as keeping tabs on Ba.

AC Milan’s surprising pursuit of Liverpool striker Andy Carroll has taken another twist, with the Italian giants believed to be considering a bid to take the player on loan.

The Reds have a good relationship with Milan, having loaned Italian midfielder Alberto Aquilani to the club in the past.

Following an announcement from Rossoneri officials that the side were interested in signing the player, British daily The Sun reports that the two clubs have held talks about a move for the England player.

Carroll is not expected to feature heavily in Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers’ plans for next season, only a year and a half after the player signed for some 35 million pounds.

With the Reds hoping to recoup the majority of the fee they paid for the 23-year-old, a permanent move looks unlikely so long as the club are unable to offload Brazilian forward Robinho.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 10, 2012, on page 14.

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