Mid-Day Ticker: Essien suffers knee injury, Villa nearing Given deal and more

Mid-Day Ticker: Essien suffers knee injury, Villa nearing Given deal and more

European Soccer

Mid-Day Ticker: Essien suffers knee injury, Villa nearing Given deal and more

Essien (Getty Images)

All of the optimism surrounding Chelsea after its hiring of manager Andre Villas-Boas appears to have subsided a bit after what appears to be a serious injury to a key player.

Midfielder Michael Essien reportedly ruptured knee ligaments in training and is set to miss a large part of the upcoming season, according to reports from England. Chelsea has yet to officially confirm the severity of the injury, only acknowledging that Essien was hurt in training and that further tests will be conducted.

The oft-injured Ghanaian was hurt on the first day of full training. The last three years have been full of injuries for Essien, who was forced to miss last summer's World Cup with another ailment.

Here are a few more stories from around the soccer world:

ASTON VILLA NEARS DEAL FOR GK GIVEN

Aston Villa is closing in on finding its replacement for Brad Freidel.

According to the Birmingham Mail, Villa and Manchester City are nearing a £3.5 million deal that will send Shay Given to Villa Park.

Despite finding a new No. 1, Villa won't necessarily be offloading American Brad Guzan, at least according to comments by new manager Alex McLeish.

"I'd also like to hold on to Brad, definitely," McLeish said. "I don't think we'd be letting him go at this particular stage."

MAN. CITY RENAMES STADIUM

The City of Manchester Stadium is a thing of the past.

Manchester City has reached a stadium naming-rights deal with Abu Dhabi-based sponsor Etihad Airways and will play in the newly branded Etihad Stadium for the next 10 years. Etihad already sponsors the club's uniforms.

The deal also includes a Manchester City-branded plane that will fly from Abu Dhabi to Manchester, according to The Guardian.

MAN. UNITED EXTENDS SMALLING

After seeing defenders John O'Shea and Wes Brown bolt for Sunderland, Manchester United has managed to secure one of its up-and-coming defenders for the long haul.

The club signed centerback Chris Smalling to a five-year deal on Friday, ensuring that he and new signing Phil Jones remain the centerback tandem of the future behind starters Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

COSTA RICA WINS AT COPA AMERICA

The pressure on Argentina keeps building.

Costa Rica defeated Bolivia at Copa America on Thursday, 2-0, to climb into second place in Group A behind Colombia. Josue Martinez and Joel Campbell scored the goals, as Costa Rica took advantage of two Bolivia red cards to score the victory.

With one game remaining in group play, Colombia leads the group with four points, followed by Costa Rica with three, Argentina with two and Bolivia with one. Host and tournament-favorite Argentina faces Costa Rica in Monday's group finale needing a win to secure a top-two finish in the group. Lionel Messi & Co. could still advance to the knockout stage as a third-place finisher based on a number of other results.

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Think Chelsea can overcome the loss of Essien? What do you think about McLeish's comments about Guzan? What do you think of City's new stadium-rights deal? Like the signing for Manchester United? Who do you see advancing from Copa America's Group A?

Share your thoughts below.

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