Drogba refused permission to leave Shanghai

Didier Drogba's hopes of an immediate move to a European club from Shanghai Shenhua have been dashed by FIFA.

 The Ivory Coast international striker was being linked with a loan move to former club Chelsea after the Chinese Super League ended this month.

The 34-year-old requested special permission to join another club outside the international transfer window to maintain his fitness levels ahead of the African Cup of Nations, which starts on 19 January in South Africa.

However, FIFA upheld its rules in previous cases when making Major League Soccer players David Beckham, Thierry Henry and Landon Donovan wait until January to make loan moves.

FIFA said in a statement: "We can confirm that the player Didier Drogba submitted a request for authorization to be registered outside an open registration period for a club on a loan basis.

"FIFA has informed him about the relevant regulations... that players may only be registered during one of the two annual registration periods fixed by the relevant association."

FIFA said the only exception was when a player's contract expired outside a transfer window.

Arsene Wenger refuses to rule out move to bring Thierry Henry back to Arsenal

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has refused to rule out a move to bring Thierry Henry back to the club.

 New York Reds Bulls striker Henry is currently training with Arsenal during the MLS off-season.

 Henry enjoyed a loan spell back with the Gunners last term when the MLS campaign came to an end and Wenger is now weighing up a third spell at Arsenal for the 35-year-old.

Wenger could be in the market for striking reinforcements after admitting Marouane Chamakh could leave in January and he will also be without Gervinho for several weeks when he plays for Ivory Coast at the Africa Cup of Nations

Wenger said: "He has been practising with us. Three times. Will I sign him again in January? I don't know - I don't rule it out. I don't know if he would be interested.

"This year we will lose Gervinho to the Africa Cup of Nations again, so we will be short - particularly if Chamakh goes."

Wenger knows Henry, who has scored 228 goals for Arsenal, is influential both on and off the pitch.

"You know what he gives you. He gives you hope, especially when he comes on. That is the most important thing," he said.

"He is a communicator. An extrovert. Very intelligent. He can only give good advice to players because he was in their position when he arrived here."

Davis Cup: Czech Republic beat Spain 3-2 in Prague final

 

The Czech Republic landed the 100th Davis Cup after Radek Stepanek beat Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the deciding rubber.

Roared on by his home crowd in the 02 Arena in Prague, the inspired Stepanek completed a 6-4 7-6 (7-0) 3-6 6-3 victory to give the Czechs a 3-2 win in the final and deny Spain a fourth Davis Cup triumph in five years.

After David Ferrer had kept Spain's hopes alive by beating Tomas Berdych to level the contest at 2-2, it left world No 37 Stepanek needing to beat 11th-ranked Almagro to give the hosts victory.

And, despite the gap in the rankings, Stepanek came up with the goods.

Stepanek pinched the first set 6-4 and, after Almagro had saved four set points in the second, the 33-year-old from Karvina blitzed the tie-break 7-0 to take a 2-0 lead.

Stepanek immediately had three break points at the start of the third as he moved in for the kill, but Almagro saved them and went on to take the set 6-3 after breaking in game six.

But it proved only a stay of execution for the 27-year-old Spaniard from Murcia as Stepanek came on strong again in the fourth.

Almagro dug deep to save a match point on his own serve in game eight but Stepanek held his serve in the next to spark wild celebrations amongst the 14,000 crowd.

It gave the Czech Republic their first Davis Cup win since they became an independent nation after splitting with Slovakia in 1993. Czechoslovakia won the Davis Cup in 1980 when they had Ivan Lendl in their ranks.

Inter held at home as Fiorentina go third

FC Internazionale Milano missed the chance to move within two points of Juventus after being held 2-2 by Cagliari Calcio, but it was a better day for ACF Fiorentina, Calcio Catania, Bologna FC and AC Siena, who all won at home.

Rodrigo Palacio gave Inter the perfect start at San Siro before two goals from Marco Sau looked to put the visitors on course for a third away win this season. However, a Davide Astori own goal eight minutes from time ensured that the spoils were shared.

Fiorentina fared much better on home soil against Atalanta BC, who had Luca Cigarini sent off in first-half stoppage time. Two goals at the end of the opening period from Alberto Aquilani contributed to a 4-1 win which moved Vincenzo Montella's side third, a point behind Inter and five behind leaders Juventus.

Elsewhere, Bologna scored two penalties in their 3-0 home win against US Città di Palermo, who finished the game with eight men. Sergio Almirón grabbed his first goals of the campaign to help Catania beat AC Chievo Verona 2-1, while Siena moved off the foot of the table with their third home win of the season against fellow strugglers Pescara Calcio, who missed a penalty and had two men sent off late on.

Shortly after his side's eighth defeat of the season, Pescara coach Giovanni Stroppa resigned, leaving the club 17th with 11 points from 13 games and the second worst defence in Serie A.

Also on Sunday, Raffaele Palladino's 89th-minute strike earned Parma FC a 2-2 stalemate at Udinese Calcio, and UC Sampdoria moved away from danger by downing derby rivals Genoa CFC 3-1.

Ferguson: I Wish We Still Had Ronaldo

Sir Alex Ferguson believes former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo is now "unbuyable", but admits he maintains hope he will one day return to Old Trafford.

Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid in 2009 in a deal worth £80 million, and has since scored a remarkable 165 goals in 162 appearances.

Following United's shock 1-0 loss to Norwich, Ferguson admitted he wished he still had Ronaldo to call on, claiming the reigning La Liga champions got a bargain price.

"I'd like to think it would be [possible to get Ronaldo back], but I don't think it will be. You're talking about incredible amounts of money now," Ferguson said.

"What would you think his value would be? He's definitely unbuyable. Who could afford to buy him?

"He was definitely good value for Madrid, but he always wanted to play for them. It was his boyhood dream. I'm not saying he'll stay there forever, you never know. How do you know we've not got a buy-back clause for him?"

During his six seasons at United, Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League crown. Ferguson insists his performances from 2003-2009 make him one of the club's all-time greats.

"He's an unbelievable player - one of the best. We have a pantheon of great players and Ronaldo definitely compares with any of them.

"Although he had a natural talent, he is in many ways manufactured himself. He practised and practised. He had a bit of the Eric Cantona about him in that way. Paul Scholes is still the same," Ferguson concluded.

 

Sir Alex Ferguson believes former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo is now "unbuyable", but admits he maintains hope he will one day return to Old Trafford.

Ronaldo left United for Real Madrid in 2009 in a deal worth £80 million, and has since scored a remarkable 165 goals in 162 appearances.

Following United's shock 1-0 loss to Norwich, Ferguson admitted he wished he still had Ronaldo to call on, claiming the reigning La Liga champions got a bargain price.

"I'd like to think it would be [possible to get Ronaldo back], but I don't think it will be. You're talking about incredible amounts of money now," Ferguson said.

"What would you think his value would be? He's definitely unbuyable. Who could afford to buy him?

"He was definitely good value for Madrid, but he always wanted to play for them. It was his boyhood dream. I'm not saying he'll stay there forever, you never know. How do you know we've not got a buy-back clause for him?"

During his six seasons at United, Ronaldo won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and a Champions League crown. Ferguson insists his performances from 2003-2009 make him one of the club's all-time greats.

"He's an unbelievable player - one of the best. We have a pantheon of great players and Ronaldo definitely compares with any of them.

"Although he had a natural talent, he is in many ways manufactured himself. He practised and practised. He had a bit of the Eric Cantona about him in that way. Paul Scholes is still the same," Ferguson concluded.