Everton’s 2006-7 season kicks off this Saturday against Watford, but for Dutch star Andy van der Meyde, the distractions have been coming far too early and often. From the Guardian’s Sean Ingle.

Someone, clearly, is out to get Andy van der Meyde. Last week the Everton winger collapsed after claiming his drink was spiked during a night out. Now it has emerged that burglars stole his pedigree dog, two cars and eight Rolex watches at the weekend.

The latest misfortune to befall Van der Meyde, 26, occurred on Saturday afternoon while he was playing a testimonial match against Athletic Bilbao at Goodison Park. Thieves broke into his house in the Wirral and stole Mac, a seven-month-old Dogue de Bordeaux – the breed made famous by the film Turner and Hooch.

The Ferrari and Mini Cooper cars were also taken during the break-in, along with eight Rolex watches. The gang then used a mobile stolen from his home to call a friend and demand a £5,000 ransom for the dog.