Paco Alcacer says he feels important again since joining Borussia Dortmund after being overlooked for two years at Barcelona.The 25-year-old striker joined the Catalans from Valencia in 2016 but made only 23 league appearances in two years at Camp Nou, struggling to displace the likes of Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi.After signing for Dortmund on a season-long loan deal in August, Alcacer impressed so much that the German club announced in October they would make it a permanent switch for €23 million (£20m/$26.5m). Article continues below Editors’ Picks ‘There is no creativity’ – Can Solskjaer get Man Utd scoring freely again? ‘Everyone legged it on to the pitch!’ – How Foden went from Man City superfan to future superstar Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Speaking to Sport Bild, Alcacer said: “Since joining BVB, I’m finally feeling important again. I’ve played very little in Barcelona for the past two years. That’s why I understand that I haven’t always played from the start so far.”Every footballer wants to play. I’m not happy when I’m sitting on the bench. But if we’re having so much success as a team, it’s OK. Because getting a title is always great.”I only have one thing in my head: I want to score goals and help the team. This has worked perfectly in the past few months.”Actually, I’ve been a little surprised with the ease that I’ve been scoring the goals with. But I have to say that my teammates have a big part in it. They often make it easy for me to score.Alcacer is the joint top scorer in the Bundesliga, tied with Frankfurt’s Luka Jovic on 12 goals despite playing half as many minutes as the 21-year-old.In fact, Alcacer has made just 12 appearances in the league and only five starts after being hampered by injury problems, although a substitute role has suited the forward with 10 of his strikes coming from the bench.”If you suddenly have to play every three days after not playing regularly for two years, that’s a big change for the body. I was aware of that,” Alcacer continued.”But I work with the coaching team to get my body up to 100 per cent efficiency. I want to avoid injuries in the second half of the season.” Dortmund return to action with a trip to RB Leipzig on January 19 following the winter break in Germany.
“The evidence is clear: almost five years of conflict have destroyed the Syrian economy and the people’s ability to buy essentials like the food they need to survive,” said Arif Husain, chief economist of the UN World Food Programme (WFP).The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said in their special joint report based on a crop and food security assessment mission to Syria that the 2015 wheat crop is expected to be better than the 2014 drought stricken harvest, but is still 40 per cent lower than pre-conflict production levels and “will not lead to significant improvements in the overall household food security situation.”Some 9.8 million people in Syria are food insecure, with 6.8 million of these “severely” food insecure – a level of need that requires external food assistance, according to the report, which noted that since January this year alone, more than half a million people have been displaced. “Although Syria’s current harvest is better than expected due to abundant rains, the country’s agriculture sector remains decimated by the conflict. Urgent donor support is needed to ensure farmers can meet the upcoming cereal planting season, beginning in October,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO’s Emergency and Rehabilitation Division.The report said agricultural production continues to be impeded by shortages of fuel, farm labour and agricultural inputs, including seeds and fertilizers; high input costs and unreliable quality; as well as damages to irrigation systems and farming equipment. Livestock production is also gravely affected by the conflict, the agencies said.“The sector, once a major contributor to Syria’s domestic economy and to its external trade, has seen reductions of 30 per cent in cattle and 40 per cent in sheep and goats, while poultry, usually the most affordable source of protein in people’s diets has shrunk by 50 per cent,” according to the report. “The report also noted that the country’s veterinary service is rapidly running out of vaccines and routine drugs.”And after being relatively stable in 2014, food prices began increasing sharply in early 2015 in the wake of lower government subsidies and exchange rate depreciation, the report noted. “Critically, the price of bread has spiralled in the past year, increasing by up to 87 per cent in public bakeries,” it said.The report said families were found to be spending more than half of their incomes on food and in some places such as Sweida, Aleppo and Hama this share is higher and has jumped to almost 80 per cent in Dara’a, one of the areas which have witnessed some of the most intensive fighting.While an end to the conflict remains the main precondition for ensuring that people in Syria have adequate access to food, the FAO-WFP report recommends that in order to strengthen the resilience of affected communities, the establishment of village-based private seed production and distribution centres, promoting backyard vegetable and poultry production through distribution of improved seeds and chicks, as well as providing livestock vaccines and veterinary drugs.“We worry about the continued displacement and its impact particularly on women and children,” said the WFP economist, Mr. Husain. “The risk of irreversible damage to the children is real, with tragic future consequences if this conflict lasts much longer.”
A CALL FROM TD Clare Daly that the motorway speed limit be raised from 120km per hour to 130km per hour has been rejected by Minister for Transport Leo Varadkar.It has been suggested that higher speed limits on motorways could help boost the economy by shortening journey times. However the government has been working on a number of new measures over the last year to reduce speed on roads, though this is mainly in rural areas and city centres.So what do you think? Should the speed limit on Irish motorways be raised? YesNoI’m not sureVote Yes (2688) Poll Results: No (4023) I’m not sure (1410)