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The Sport Matrix: Friday 24 January 2014


Chelsea gazump Liverpool with move for Salah

Chelsea outbid Liverpool for the Basel winger Mohamed Salah with a bigger down payment for the player yesterday after their rivals offered a deal worth a total of £15m including add-ons.

Chelsea tied up the deal for Basel’s 21-year-old midfielder rapidly and were able to announce him as their own before Manchester United could even complete a medical on Juan Mata.

Mata remained in London last night, though United’s players have been told they will have to sacrifice their day off today and train at Carrington to help the Spanish player integrate.

Chelsea have secured assurances from Salah (above) that he did not make anti-Israeli remarks, having avoided a pre-match handshake before a game with Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv six months ago.

The London club checked with the player and his representatives as to the veracity of quotes attributed to him. He denies saying the remarks. With the club owned by Roman Abramovich, who is Jewish, and a supporter of the state of Israel, there is sensitivity around the issue. MORE

Cibulkova inspired by friend Bartoli

Dominika Cibulkova said her friend Marion Bartoli has been an inspiration, ahead of  tomorrow’s Australian Open women’s singles final against  Li Na. Cibulkova, 24, said: “When she [Bartoli] won Wimbledon, I knew everything is possible.” MORE

Rooney row is factor in Mata deal

Manchester United’s use of intermediaries to conclude the Juan Mata deal may have stemmed from their strained relations with Chelsea, after last summer’s dispute over Wayne Rooney. The Spaniard is due to undergo a medical at Carrington today.

Anelka denies FA ‘quenelle’ charge

West Bromwich striker Nicolas Anelka has denied an FA charge brought against him for performing a “quenelle” gesture, which some believe is anti-Semitic. Anelka, who made the gesture during the 3-3 draw at West Ham in December, has now requested a personal hearing.

Wenger: Arsenal must sustain form

Arsène Wenger says his Arsenal side are in the “moment of a lifetime” and urged his players to sustain momentum before tonight’s FA Cup fourth-round tie against Coventry City. “When you are on a run it is important not to interrupt it with a setback,” said Wenger.

Bleasdale focused on five-metre mark

Pole-vaulter Holly Bleasdale believes she is getting back to her best after a tough couple of years struggling for form and fitness. The 22-year-old said: “I don’t see why I can’t jump five metres in the next couple of years.”

Halfpenny to move and Evans banned

Welsh rugby suffered a double blow yesterday, with Leigh Halfpenny leaving Cardiff to join French side Toulon. Ospreys lock Ian Evans, meanwhile, will miss the Six Nations after receiving a 12-week ban for stamping during a Heineken Cup game. MORE

Osvaldo ban after training ‘headbutt’

Dani Osvaldo’s future at  Southampton is in doubt after the striker was given a two-week suspension for a training ground incident. It is understood Osvaldo headbutted Jose Fonte, leading to a fracas between the pair. MORE

Barça president quits over Neymar

Barcelona’s president Sandro Rosell resigned last night amid the row over the Neymar transfer. Rosell said: “Everything we have said about the Neymar transfer is correct but I do not want unjust attacks to affect the club.”

England’s Ashes hopes put on hold

Australia debutant Nicole Bolton’s century thwarted England’s attempts to retain the Ashes as they lost the second ODI by 26 runs. The tourists require one victory from their remaining four games. MORE

The Edberg effect

Paul Newman discovers how Roger Federer’s form has improved after working with new coach Stefan Edberg, with the Swiss set to face Rafa Nadal in today’s Australian Open semi-final. MORE