Wednesday Kickoff: UEFA won't back Blatter; Pirlo extends contract; and more

Wednesday Kickoff: UEFA won't back Blatter; Pirlo extends contract; and more

South American Soccer

Wednesday Kickoff: UEFA won't back Blatter; Pirlo extends contract; and more

SeppBlatterFIFAMarch2014 (AFP)

By RYAN TOLMICH

Representatives from UEFA may not have a clear idea of who they want in charge of soccer’s governing body, but they made it very clear that they hope it isn’t Sepp Blatter.

The chairmen of the football associations of England and the Netherlands have urged the current president to not run for reelection, with Dutch representative Michael van Praag stating that “people link FIFA to corruption and bribery and all kinds of old boy’s network”.

“FIFA has an executive president, and that means you are responsible,” the Netherlands federation president said he told Blatter. “People tend not to take you very seriously anymore.

“The image of FIFA has been tarnished by everything that has happened over the last years,” said van Praag. “There are very few people who still take FIFA seriously, and whatever way you want to cut and dice it, Blatter is responsible in the end.”

Blatter initially stated his intentions on stepping down after this current term, but the 78-year-old reversed his decision with intentions on running for a fifth term.

Here are some more news and notes to kick off your Wednesday morning:

PIRLO EXTENDS CONTRACT WITH JUVENTUS

Andrea Pirlo may be 35-years old but he has no intentions of retiring soon.

The Italian midfield maestro has extended his contract with Juventus for a further two years, through June 2016, the club announced on Wednesday morning. Pirlo first joined Juve from AC Milan in 2011, and has lead the club to three straight Serie A titles, a record feat.

Since joining Juventus, Pirlo has scored 14 goals and assisted on 30. Per Juventus’ website, Pirlo has also touched the ball at least once every minute that he has played in a Bianconeri shirt and has kept a passing completion rate higher than 90 percent.

Pirlo is currently set to feature for the Italian National Team at the World Cup this summer in what could be his final hurrah in the Azzurri shirt.

LAHM, MÜLLER SIGN BAYERN EXTENSIONS

Thomas Müller and Philipp Lahm have ended any speculation of them leaving Bayern Munich this summer.

The German giants locked down two of their top players to two-year contract extensions each, with Lahm’s deal now extended until June 2018 and Müller’s now extending to June 2019. The news was announced on Wednesday morning and clears up any confusion regarding Müller’s club future, after recent signs that he might have been ready to leave.

“Both Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller are very important members of the FC Bayern squad,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said in a statement. “Both have stayed loyal to the club since the start of their careers and will continue to play an important role here in the future. We’re delighted both players have committed to Bayern Munich for the long term.

“I now wish Philipp Lahm and Thomas Müller a successful World Cup in Brazil and I’m keeping my fingers crossed for them and the Germany team as they seek to win the trophy.”

Müller scored 26 goals for Bayern in all competitions last season, starting only 25 times in the Bundesliga but also playing as a regular in the German Cup and UEFA Champions League. Lahm transitioned under Guardiola into more of a holding midfielder and did it terrifically last season, giving Germany National Team coach Joachim Löw another central midfield option to go with this summer.

VELA HEADING BACK TO ARSENAL

After four years away from the club, Mexican winger Carlos Vela appears to be on his way back to Arsenal.

Vela, who was a part of the Gunner organization from 2005-2011, has spent the past three seasons with Real Sociedad, initially on loan before making a permanent move.  However, the Gunners are now prepared to activate a clause in Vela’s deal that will see the 25-year-old make his way back to the Emirates.

“Arsenal have informed us that Vela would be with them next season,” Real Sociedad president Jokin Aperribay said, confirming the £3.5 million clause that will see Vela’s return to London.

Vela scored 16 goals in this past season as Sociedad finished seventh in La Liga.

QUICK KICKS

Real Madrid have offered centerback Sergio Ramos an improved contract following his game-winning-goal in the UEFA Champions League final. (REPORT)

Former Manchester City boss Roberto Mancini has parted ways with Galatasaray. (REPORT)

AS Monaco has pulled out of a deal to sign former Barcelona goalkeeper Victor Valdes after the player suffered a torn ACL last season. (REPORT)

Inter Milan have acquired full ownership of Argentina starlet Mauro Icardi after ending his co-ownership with Sampdoria. (REPORT)

Colombia National Team goalkeeper David Ospina has criticized the Brazuca, saying it’s too light and will be difficult for goalkeepers to adapt to. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Happy to see UEFA stand up to Blatter? Do you see Pirlo playing out his contract at Juventus? Surprised to see Bayern lock down Müller to a contract extension?

Share your thoughts below.

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