WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S.A. – Diego is close to getting exactly what he wants: a chance to play in Spain.
A former VfL Wolfsburg star, the Brazilian has agreed to a transfer to Spanish side Atlético Madrid, a move the midfielder had been pursuing the past few months.
“There is an agreement with the player, the only thing left is an agreement between Atlético and Wolfsburg,” the player’s father and agent, Djair Ribas, told reporters.
The transfer fee for Diego is expected to be around €10 million (US$16.36 million), substantially less than the club-record €15.5 million (US$25.36 million) Wolfsburg paid a little more than a year ago to acquire Diego from Italian power Juventus.
Atlético Madrid is trying to make the move to bolster its offense to improve its chances of winning La Liga.
Diego has scored six goals in 30 games with Wolfsburg and four goals in 33 games with the Brazilian national team.
Mexicali, Mexico thriving in Little League World Series
Mexicali, Mexico, is two wins from claiming the Little League World Series title.
The team posted a dramatic, 2-1 victory in nine innings over Maracay, Venezuela, to advance to the International Championship game on Aug. 26.
Mexico claimed the comeback victory thanks to Bruno Ruiz. The left fielder cranked a home run in the top of the ninth to break a 1-1 tie and deal the Venezuelans their first loss of the tournament.
“When I looked up at home plate and I saw all my teammates there, I knew what to expect,” Ruiz told reporters about the celebration waiting for him. “Yes it hurt ... But it’s tradition. Everyone hits a home run on my team and they get hit on the helmet.”
But did he have any doubt the ball would clear the center field fence when he made contact?
“Right when I hit it, I knew it was gone,” he told reporters.
Now, Mexico must play the waiting game. Japan and Venezuela – teams Mexico already defeated in the double-elimination tournament – will play on Aug. 25 to determine who will face the Mexicans on Aug. 27 for a spot in the final against the U.S. champion the next day.
The Little League World Series features 16 teams of 11-13 year olds from around the globe.
“We haven’t lost a game all tournament long and the kids are having a hard time dealing with that,” Venezuela manager Gustavo Narvaez told reporters.
Mexico plans to enjoy their down time while it waits to find out its next opponent. New York Yankees pitcher Luis Ayala, a native of Los Mochis, Mexico, planned to bring the youths to the Bronx on Thursday to watch his team face the Oakland Athletics.
On the field, Mexico also will have an added benefit from time off.
Pitcher Carlos Arellano struck out 11 over 7 1/3 innings, as he gave up only one run against Venezuela.
After the win he was seen icing his arm and planning adjustments for the next time he takes the bump.
“I needed to throw it faster,” Arellano told reporters. “Also, I wanted to work on my mechanics. I wanted to throw more strikes so they wouldn't get more hits off me.”
New FIFA No. 1
The Netherlands did something this week they couldn’t do at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa: top Spain.
By ascending to No. 1 in the FIFA World Rankings, the Dutch supplanted defending World Cup champion Spain as the top team on the planet. Germany checked in at No. 3, followed by England at No. 4 and Uruguay rounded out the top 5.
“This has been a lot of work, going back many years,” Uruguay forward Diego Forlán told reporters. “It’s been a job doing things well and it has yielded results.”
The defending Copa América champions are the top-ranked team in South America after La Celeste maintained its ranking, while Brazil fell two spots to sixth. Italy was seventh, followed by No. 8 Portugal, No. 9 Argentina and No. 10 Croatia.
Chile, which drew 1-1 with France earlier this month, held steady at No. 11.
Paraguay is ranked No. 25, Peru No. 26, Colombia No. 35, Venezuela No. 44, Ecuador No. 66 and Bolivia is slotted No. 85.
Brazil’s Zico to coach Iraqi national soccer team
If Zico can add to his legend, it will earn him a trip home.
The former Brazilian star is finalizing an agreement to coach the Iraqi national team during its quest to earn a bid for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
“Everything has been agreed. The only thing missing is the signature,” the former Flamengo standout told reporters.
Zico starred on the Seleção’s 1978, 1982 and 1986 World Cup teams, but he’s also had success coaching on the international level, guiding Japan to a World Cup berth in 2006 after winning the Asian Cup in 2004.