World Football Gossip Roundup: Match-Fixing, Jose Mourinho, Mario Balotelli
The Mario Balotelli Show is up and running in Milan, with the mercurial Italian striker scoring twice on his debut for the Rossoneri.
Was Balotelli destined to deliver on his debut? His new employer seems to think so.
That story appears in this Monday edition of the B/R World Football Gossip Roundup, which also includes news on the breaking worldwide match-fixing scandal, Jose Mourinho's potential London return and Manchester United's search for a keeper.
Keep reading for all the details.
Authorities Investigating Match-Fixing Around World
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Investigators say they have uncovered evidence that 680 matches from around the world have been fixed in recent years (via BBC Sport).
Europol, the European police agency, announced in a news conference in The Hague, Netherlands, that 50 people have been arrested. A crime organization in Asia allegedly is behind the scheme.
The corrupt matches included a Champions League tie played in England in the "last three or four years," World Cup and European Championship qualifiers and "several top football matches in European leagues."
Rigged matches in Germany produced a profit of £6.9 million for the criminals. Investigators say they fear these findings are the "tip of the iceberg."
Jose Mourinho Ready for Chelsea Return?
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Jose Mourinho is prepared for a return to Chelsea and is waiting for the call from club owner Roman Abramovich, according to The Sun.
Mourinho, 50, managed Chelsea to back-to-back league titles in 2004-05 and 2005-06, also winning the FA Cup in 2007. He left the club in 2007 and now manages Real Madrid.
At Real Madrid, Mourinho reportedly has had disagreements with senior players as Los Blancos struggle in the Spanish league.
According to the Daily Telegraph, current Chelsea interim manager Rafa Benitez could be sacked this weekend if the Blues fail to defeat Wigan.
Leandro Damiao: 'I Wanted to Stay at Internacional'
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Leandro Damiao has thanked Tottenham Hotspur for their interest in him this winter, but has said he "always wanted to stay at Internacional" (Correio do Povo via Sky Sports).
Spurs reportedly came close to signing Damiao, a 23-year-old Brazil international forward. According to Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas, the deal was held up due to Damiao's third-party ownership.
(Internacional) president Giovanni Luigi knows I always wanted to stay at Internacional, regardless of any offers that could come.
I certainly thank Tottenham [for their interest], they are a big club in Europe, but my focus is on Inter.
I hope to help Inter for a long time, I have a long contract and I am very happy and focused.
Asmir Begovic to Cost Manchester United £15 Million?
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Manchester United will need to pay £15 million to sign goalkeeper Asmir Begovic from Stoke City this summer, according to the Daily Mirror.
Begovic, a 25-year-old Bosnian international, will reportedly be a Manchester United transfer target this summer. Stoke signed 19-year-old England keeper Jack Butland in January, but immediately loaned him back to Birmingham City for the rest of the season.
Stoke reportedly turned down Chelsea's £12 million offer for Begovic last year.
Mario Balotelli Destined to Score Against Udinese?
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AC Milan chief executive Adriano Galliani has claimed Mario Balotelli was fated to score on his debut for Milan against Udinese, according to the club's official website (via The Independent).
Balotelli, a 22-year-old Italian striker, joined Milan from Manchester City in January. He scored twice on Sunday—the second a controversial penalty in second-half stoppage time—as Milan defeated Udinese 2-1 at the San Siro.
"Balotelli's two goals were a sign of fate, and he could have scored after 35 seconds," said Galliani.
Galliani added: "We don't have (Lionel) Messi, but we have Balotelli. This attack reminds me of Barcelona, and we will see the benefit in terms of sponsors because he is only 22 and he has great potential."