Soccer Digest, December 28, 2012

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 28 December, 2012, 2:20am


Celtic boss sure team will stay intact past transfer window

Celtic manager Neil Lennon is confident of keeping his squad together beyond the January transfer window after his side went seven points clear in Scotland with a 2-0 win away to Dundee. A superb overhead kick from Georgios Samaras in the 16th minute put Celtic on their way before Gary Hooper sealed the win with a second-half strike at Dens Park. "We are going well in all four competitions and I am very confident of keeping the squad together. I have had no phone calls about anyone and nobody saying they want to leave," the Celtic manager said. "I know there will be a lot of speculation and people making up stories as they go along but the club is stable and we don't need to sell." AFP


Mata is the man who matters, says delighted Chelsea coach

Chelsea coach Rafael Benitez praised Juan Mata after his winner at Norwich City took the Blues to within four points of second-placed Manchester City. "Mata is a player who is very dangerous getting into the box and also outside the box, so we are very pleased with him," said Benitez. "He is in form and the team is too, as we have now won three games in a row. He is doing really well. Even without the ball, he is working really hard and when we are in possession, he is making a difference. He has clever movements. He can play deeper, can go to the right into spaces, and that is hard for the midfielders and the defenders to manage. The Premier League has a lot of good players and Mata is one of the best." AFP


Jol slams scorer Berbatov for 'stupid' T-shirt celebration

Fulham manager Martin Jol described striker Dimitar Berbatov as "stupid" after the Bulgarian was booked for a bizarre T-shirt gesture after scoring in the 1-1 draw with Southampton. Berbatov was yellow-carded for his celebration which involved revealing a T-shirt which read: 'Keep calm and pass me the ball'. "It was a bit stupid and I will have a word with him," said Jol. "He probably thought he would get away with it as he never gets booked. He tells the youngsters every day to play with confidence, keep the ball and don't be afraid. You need confidence and self-belief to play your football. He wants us to play in a certain style and that is the message he's trying to get across." AFP


Napoli decline €55m offer for Uruguayan striker Cavani

Napoli have turned down a €55 million (HK$562.66 million) offer for striker Edison Cavani with club owner Aurelio De Laurentiis indicating that the Uruguayan's "warrior" spirit will be key to a Serie A title push. "Cavani is a warrior who embodies all that's best of the Napoli spirit and our supporters. It is because of this I turned down an offer of €55 million," De Laurentiis said, without identifying the chasing club. "Cavani has become the symbol of our resurgence. If I have kept him here it is not because of money, but a love for the club," added the team chief of the 25-year-old who has scored 13 league goals this season. Cavani arrived at Napoli having spent three seasons with Palermo. AFP