Stephane Omeonga leaves Genoa for Hibernian loan

Hibernian have signed Stephane Omeonga on loan from Serie A club Genoa.

The 22-year-old joins Neil Lennon’s squad until the end of the season after making three appearances in the Italian top-flight this season.

The DR Congolese descent joined Genoa from Avellino in 2017 and enjoyed a fine debut campaign playing 21 matches in all competitions.

His signing comes as a boost for the Hibs who are placed eighth in the league standings with five points adrift of the top six.

“I’m very happy and I’m very excited to get started, to get on the pitch and to fight for the team,” Omeonga told club website.

“I’ve known for a month that Hibs were interested in me. It was that interest that made me come here because they pushed hard and I was happy to know that I was wanted.”

Omeonga has been handed the number 40 shirt and he is available for selection when the Scottish top-flight resumes with a visit Motherwell on Wednesday.

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Ngozi Ebere joins Norwegian side Arna Bjornar from Barcelona FA

Ngozi Ebere has signed a one-year contract with Norwegian Women League side Arna Bjomar from Cyprus club Barcelona FA.

The Nigeria international joined the Cyprus side in October 2017, having seen out her two-year contract with Paris Sain-Germain ladies but has now completed a move to the Toppserien outfit.

This is coming on the heels of her impressive outing with the Super Falcons in Ghana, where they were crowned champions of the 2018 Africa Women Cup of Nations.

According to the club, the 27-year-old’s switch from Cyprus was based on recommendation of the Swede and Super Falcons gaffer Thomas Dennerby.

“Ngozi is a defender and her choice was made on the recommendations of Nigeria’s Swedish national team coach,” the club statement read.

“She knows that Bergen is well known for among other things, its rainy weather, but she’s looking forward to coming to Norway.”

On her move, Ebere said: “This is a new challenge in a highly competitive league. As a professional you want to keep testing yourself among the best, right now I am prepared for that.”

Having sealed the move, the former Rivers Angels defender becomes the second Nigeria to enter the books of Bjornar after Precious Dede’s brief stint in 2009.

Ebere will join up with her new teammates in Turkey for a pre-season in preparations for the resumption of the new Norwegian women league season in March.

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Benzema to avoid surgery on injured finger

Karim Benzema will avoid an operation on his injured finger, Goal understands, as medical tests have shown the injury should heal with a protective splint.

The Frenchman sustained the injury in his side’s 2-1 victory over Real Betis on January 13, when he went down near the end of the first half following a collision with Marc Bartra.

While he was diagnosed with a fracture to his finger, Benzema managed to suit up and play the entire match on Saturday against Sevilla, with Real Madrid winning 2-0.

However, the decision on whether to operate was still up in the air. Part of the test would be his comfort level in the match against Sevilla, and Benzema was able to get through the game wearing a splint without any major issues.

However, the second factor would be medical tests performed once the swelling in the finger had dissipated. And those tests carried out after the game have been even more positive than expected.

The results revealed the Real Madrid striker has primarily suffered a soft tissue injury as a result of the dislocation that occurred when he fell awkwardly during the match against Betis.

So while an operation was considered a possibility before, it is now deemed to be unnecessary to heal the injury.

Instead, it will suffice to protect Benzema’s little finger with a splint during the next month.

Though Madrid were always optimistic about Benzema’s injury, they are relieved at the test results and are no longer concerned by the situation.

The club have a busy schedule upcoming, with midweek Copa del Rey matches the next two weeks and the Champions League last-16 first leg against Ajax to be played February 13.

Benzema has already enjoyed a more productive season in La Liga than his previous campaign, having netted seven times this season compared to only five the entirety of last season. He has also added another three goals this season in the Champions League.

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Messi rested for Sevilla trip, Boateng set for debut

Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona’s squad for Wednesday’s Copa del Rey trip to Sevilla as he is given a rest, but new signing Kevin-Prince Boateng is included.

Messi was absent from Barca’s starting XI for the visit of Leganes in La Liga on Sunday, coming on as a substitute to spare their blushes – playing a role in Luis Suarez’s goal before also scoring himself.

Coach Ernesto Valverde acknowledged in the lead up to that game that he was likely to take opportunities to rest Messi in the coming weeks ahead of a busy period, which includes the return of the Champions League.

Sevilla – a team he boasts a fine record against – are the lucky beneficiaries of his time out of the side, as Barca travel to Andalusia for the first leg of their Copa quarter-final.

However. Boateng is in line to make his first appearance for the club.

The Germany-born former Ghana international joined Barca in a shock loan deal from Sassuolo on Monday, a move which caught many by surprise.

The 31-year-old makes his return to Spanish football having previously featured for Las Palmas.

Young talent Riqui Puig is included in the squad as well, with opponents Sevilla aiming to arrest a run of three successive defeats in all competitions.

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Sources: Caleb Stanko set to sign with FC Cincinnati

FC Cincinnati’s quest for a defensive midfield anchor has led the Major League Soccer expansion club to a European-based American who is ready to return home.

FC Cincinnati is finalizing the acquisition of midfielder Caleb Stanko, multiple sources have confirmed to Goal. The defensive midfielder is joining Cincinnati from Bundesliga side SC Freiburg for an undisclosed fee after Cincinnati claimed Stanko via the MLS discovery process.

Stanko will look to lock down the defensive midfield role Cincinnati had originally hoped to fill with veteran midfielder Osvaldo Alonso, who wound up signing a free agent contract with Minnesota United instead.

The 25-year-old has one cap with the U.S. senior national team, a 17-minute cameo in a World Cup qualifying victory against Trinidad and Tobago in 2016.

Stanko joined Freiburg in 2011, spending six seasons with the club’s reserve team before making his first-team debut in 2015 when Freiburg was playing in the 2.Bundesliga. After a successful loan stint with Swiss club FC Vaduz during the 2016-17 season, Stanko returned to newly-promoted Freiburg and made six appearances with the Bundesliga club during the 2017-18 season.

Knee injuries cut short Stanko’s 2017-18 season and also kept him sidelined for the first half of the current Bundesliga campaign. He has recovered from his most recent knee injury, and played 90 minutes in a friendly against Mainz on January 12.

Stanko joins an FC Cincinnati side that acquired veteran defensive midfielder Victor Ulloa from FC Dallas earlier this month, and also brought in MLS veteran Fatai Alashe from San Jose last season. Recent Costa Rican signing Allan Cruz is another possibility for the defensive midfield role, but Stanko’s arrival could allow FC Cincinnati coach Alan Koch to deploy Cruz in a more advanced role or partner Stanko and Cruz as dueling defensive midfielders in a 4-2-3-1 system.

Stanko joins a solid defensive core FC Cincinnati has put together, which also includes MLS veterans Greg Garza, Kendall Waston and Alvas Powell, along with promising young central defender Hassan Ndam.

The 25-year-old captained the United States at the 2013 Under-20 World Cup, leading a squad that included DeAndre Yedlin, Wil Trapp, Zack Steffen and Kellyn Acosta.

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