Wednesday, June 19th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “There is a possibility that he [Thiago Alcantara] could leave but we have to convince him that the best place for him is Barcelona. Players in his position like Xavi were patient and they ended up defining an era.” – Gerard Pique.
Kinnear Crisis: Newcastle Torn Apart Again
If Kinnear is having a final say on transfers and is the public face of Newcastle, there needs to be more to him than meets the eye. And it can’t be fiction (Martin Samuel, Mail) With his coarse outbursts and insulting struggles with foreign names, he does not fit the profile of the continental sophisticate naturally palling around with Arsene Wenger… Mike Ashley, the Newcastle owner, is believed to like Kinnear best of all his managers, but that is not enough. No doubt he enjoys the fact that he calls a spade a f****** shovel and journalists a bunch of, well, you know. Yet football is more complex now. The old-school ally can be your valued friend in the boardroom telling it like it is — Bobby Campbell is close to Roman Abramovich, for instance — but if Kinnear is having a final say on transfers and is the public face of Newcastle, there needs to be more to him than meets the eye. Much more. And it can’t be fiction.
Joe Kinnear’s radio interview about Newcastle was more awkward and uncomfortable than funny (Ollie Holt, Mirror) Kinnear is a transparently vulnerable man. Why else would he need to boast about phoning Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger? Why else would he reopen old wounds with reporters who cover Newcastle fairly and honestly and who he roundly abused the last time he held a position of influence at St James’ Park? Why else would he trample over the sensibilities of Newcastle manager Alan Pardew by revealing he was now the man who called the shots? But the thing that is hardest of all to fathom about his appointment is how it can be reconciled with his health.
Looney Toon (Vic Holly, Sun) Newcastle lurched closer to meltdown last night after manager Alan Pardew snubbed his new boss Joe Kinnear. Pardew has pointedly avoided issuing any form of public welcome to Kinnear — three days after he revealed his new role as the Toon’s director of football… Without any endorsement from Pardew and the players already mocking him, it was left to managing director Derek Llambias to issue a statement formally welcoming Kinnear.
I’ll fight on! Pardew refuses to be forced out by Kinnear arrival who is just there to ‘get the best possible team on the pitch’ (Ian Ladman, Mail) Newcastle manager Alan Pardew will not be forced out by the arrival of Joe Kinnear as director of football at St James’ Park. Kinnear’s appointment was confirmed by the club yesterday as the 66-year-old met Pardew for lunch in the North East. Despite some provocative statements from Kinnear over the past 48 hours, Pardew is adamant that he will not quit when only last year he signed an eight-year contract.
Is It A Mata Of Money?
Barcelona eye Chelsea’s Juan Mata after report of contract dispute with Jose Mourinho (Martin Lipton, Mirror) Barcelona have targeted Juan Mata for a shock summer swoop because they believe he has fallen out with Jose Mourinho… The Nou Camp side have now sent out feelers in the direction of the former Valencia man Mata, ahead of a likely £30million bid. The latest claim, coming from Catalonia, suggests Mourinho has blocked a wage increase due the 25-year-old under the terms of his current contract. Sources in Spain insist Mata’s 19 goals and 35 assists last term entitled him to a pay rise, but it has been vetoed at Mourinho’s orders.
Chelsea to hold talks over Edinson Cavani’s transfer from Napoli in the next 24 hours (Martin Lipton, Mirror) With Chelsea reluctant to meet Napoli’s £53million buy-out clause valuation, and Cavani again hinting that Real Madrid is his preferred option, the odds are increasingly against Mourinho getting his man.
Cesc Cusses Bale
Cesc in ‘£100m’ Bale fee dig (Tony Little, Sun) Cesc Fabregas insists Real Madrid would be ‘foolish’ to bid £100million for Gareth Bale. The Spanish giants have admitted they could go as high as that to land the Spurs winger. But Barcelona midfielder Fabregas said: “Spending £100m on Bale is foolish, I don’t know how any club could spend that amount of money. He is a great player but we will have to see if Madrid sign him and if he can perform there.”
New twist in Gareth Bale transfer saga as Real Madrid reserve No.11 shirt for Spurs star (Darren Lewis, Mirror) Real Madrid have stepped up their campaign to land £85million-rated Gareth Bale – by reserving their no.11 shirt for him… Real’s No.11 shirt is free, as it was worn last season by ex-Chelsea defender Ricardo Carvalho, who recently completed a transfer to Monaco.
West Ham Land Carroll
Hammers move fast to land Carroll (Andrew Dillon, Sun) West Ham have smashed their transfer record to capture Andy Carroll in a deal worth £55million. Panicking Hammers rushed forward plans to sign the Liverpool striker to head off a late challenge from his home-town club Newcastle… Carroll has agreed a six-year deal with an option for a seventh, worth £100,000 a week which could see him pocket a staggering £36m.
£15.5m Carroll agrees six-year deal at West Ham as Liverpool take £20m hit on striker (Dominic King, Mail) Liverpool, who will take a £20m loss on the man they signed from Newcastle in January 2011, will now continue their own search for reinforcements and their top target is Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Liverpool’s Transfer Lookout
Liverpool make £5m bid for Porto’s Atsu… and Spain youngster Alberto is next on Reds’ winger hit-list (Simon Jones, Mail) Liverpool have made a £5million bid for Porto forward Christian Atsu and hope to sign him plus Sevilla’s Luis Alberto. Ghana’s Atsu, 21, plays on the left or behind the striker. Alberto, 20, is a similar player.
Liverpool in advanced talks to buy Porto’s Christian Atsu for £3m (David Hytner, Guardian) The two clubs are in advanced talks and Liverpool are moving in on a deal that would see the 21-year-old winger sign for as little as £3m, on the basis that his contract expires next summer and he has already made it clear that he will not be signing another one.
Spurs Seek Out Brazilians
Spurs line up Brazilian raid for Paulinho and Bernard as AVB spies re-vamp (Simon Jones, Mail) Tottenham are closing on a deal for Corinthians midfielder Paulinho and are the only club to make a bid for Atletico Mineiro midfielder Bernard… The north London side are ready to make a £15million offer for Brazilian midfielder Paulinho to head off competition from Roma and Inter Milan.
Spain Win Euro U21
Thiago Alcantara’s hat-trick seals European Championship for Spanish youngsters (Jack Pitts-Brooke, Independent) Even on another night of glorious combination football from Spain, it was the individual triumph of Thiago Alcantara which won their second consecutive European Under-21 Championship… Thiago, who is an occasional rather than regular starter for Barcelona, is thought to be a target for Manchester United and he made immediately obvious, if he had not before, that he was a player of the highest class and nerve.
Tuesday, June 18th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “If the managerial situation changes, I can assure you it will be somebody else coming in. It won’t be me. I’m not interested in being a manager. If he gets sacked, I will help to find somebody else. The best thing we can do at the club is bond together because we could all get the sack if things aren’t going right. We need to make sure we reach our target and keep the owner happy — otherwise we will all be out of work. I’m meeting Alan tomorrow for lunch. I’ve spoken to him on the phone. We are going to discuss our gameplan for the season… I’m not worried by what the fans say. Some of them are just talking out of their backside. I’ve certainly got more intelligence than them.” – Joe Kinnear.
How Andy Carroll Stopped Ashley Cole & Anton Ferdinand Brawling In LA
Ashley Cole in 2am stand-off with Anton Ferdinand (Tom Wells, Sun) Race row football rivals Ashley Cole and Anton Ferdinand came face-to-face in a 2am bust-up in a car park. The pair were separated by pals following a tense stand-off outside a nightclub in Los Angeles. Cole’s England team-mate Andy Carroll appeared to put a protective arm across him to keep the men apart.
Ronaldo To United, In 18 Months
Cristiano Ronaldo advised to stay at Real Madrid for another 18 months before making possible switch to Manchester United (Ian Herbert, Independent) Cristiano Ronaldo is privately being urged to wait 18 months before making his last big move in football – a strategy which could place him within financial reach of Manchester United… While United accept that they cannot compete this summer with the likely £85m bid from Monaco – a tax-free principality where he can become the world’s richest player – or Paris Saint Germain, the player is being advised that if he waits until he is out of contract in June 2015, he will be able to secure a colossal signing on-fee and substantial wages which would add up to a 140m euros (£118m) welcome home package.
Arsenal Keeping Kos, Higuain & Illarramendi To Sign
I’ll snub Barca and Bayern (Charlie Wyett, Sun) Laurent Koscielny will snub Bayern Munich AND Barcelona to remain at Arsenal. Koscielny’s agent, Stephane Courbois, had fuelled talk of a move by confirming that the defender is a summer target for Europe’s top clubs. But the £15million-rated France international, 27, has now told Gunners boss Arsene Wenger he is happy at the Emirates and is not interested in leaving.
Arsenal set to land £22m Higuain THIS WEEK… and they want Spanish U21 £10m ace Illarramendi too (Dominic King, Mail) Arsenal hope to end their nine-year wait to sign Gonzalo Higuain this week by making a club record £22million offer for the striker… Meanwhile, The Gunners are leading the chase for Spain Under 21 international Asier Illarramendi. The £10million-rated Real Sociedad defensive midfielder has been outstanding all season and has attracted attention from Real Madrid.
Liverpool and Arsenal to battle it out for West Brom’s 14-year-old wonderkid Yan Dhanda (Graeme Yorke, Mail) Liverpool are rivalling Arsenal for West Bromwich Albion wonderkid Yan Dhanda. The 14-year-old was signed up by Albion after being spotted in an Asian Soccer Star talent competition and his performances have already caught worldwide attention on the internet.
Kinnear Calls Out Toon Fans’ Intelligence, Makes Up Facts
I’m more intelligent than Toon fans, can speak to Wenger whenever I want, and have a proven record of success! Kinnear risks backlash with latest bizarre broadcast (Wayne Gardiner, Mail) Joe Kinnear faces fans’ fury after an interview in which Newcastle’s new director of football claimed he has ‘more intelligence’ than the club’s supporters… Kinnear, who struggled with some Newcastle players’ names as well as Llambias on talkSPORT, added: ‘I’m a bit surprised. There’s a certain section, exactly the same when I got there. I got over 10,000 letters when I had my heart attack, I felt very proud of that and thought I did an excellent job.’
Joe Kinnear muddies waters at Newcastle with shambolic interview (Louise Taylor, Guardian) During his conversation with Andy Goldstein and fellow former Wimbledon manager Bobby Gould, the 66-year-old claimed responsibility for signing Tim Krul [a goalkeeper recruited by Graeme Souness] as well as James Perch [bought by Chris Hughton], said “Derek Llambezee [Derek Llambias, Newcastle's managing director] had resigned as director of football [a position he has never held]and talked about Shola Amenobee, Yohan Kebab and Hatem Ben Afre rather than Shola Ameobi, Yohan Cabaye and Hatem Ben Arfa.
The Krul truth is Kinnear keeps alienating himself from Toon fans and the team with wild claims and mispronunciations, just ask Kebab, Amamobi, Ben Afri and Sissy (Michael Walker, Mail) Seizing upon Kinnear calling managing director Derek Llambias ‘Lambezi’, or Yohan Cabaye ‘Kebab’ or Hatem Ben Arfa ‘Afra’, will make for sport among a disgruntled fanbase. But in his defence, all managers make mistakes with names. What is less comprehensible, and what will stir the existing disillusion, is Kinnear’s claim that he brought Tim Krul to Newcastle.
Kinnear wants Carroll to return to Newcastle in first move at St James Park (David Kent, Mail) Joe Kinnear’s first move at Newcastle could be to bring back Andy Carroll to St. James’ Park… It is not known if Newcastle will bid for the target man, who is reported to be valued by Brendan Rodgers’ side at £15m – £20m less than the record fee that brought him to Liverpool.
Carroll poised for £15m West Ham move (Mark Odgen, Telegraph) Andy Carroll to undergo a medical at West Ham as Liverpool prepare to make £20m loss on record signing.
Suarez Must Issue A Transfer Request
Liverpool to demand official transfer request if £50m rated Suarez wants to follow Carroll out of Anfield exit (Dominic King, Mail) Liverpool will demand Luis Suarez provides written confirmation of his intention to leave in an attempt to swiftly resolve the saga over his future… If Suarez is going to be sold to Real Madrid, as he desires, Liverpool will expect him to submit an official transfer request, while they would also want to recoup a fee in the region of £50million. As yet, Madrid have not made a formal bid for the 26-year-old.
Liverpool to tell Luis Suarez to stop flirting with Real Madrid and ask for a transfer (David Maddock, Mirror) Angry Liverpool will deliver a put-up-or-shut-up ultimatum to loose-lipped star Luis Suarez… Suarez has a clause in his contract allowing him to leave if an offer exceeding £40million is made, a fact which makes all of his many and varied outbursts redundant.
Blues Eye Matic, Gala Chasing Obi
Nemanja Matic will cost Chelsea£38m (David Woods, Star) Benfica are demanding Chelsea pay a staggering £38m for Nemanja Matic – the man the Blues let them have as a makeweight two years ago. Boss Jose Mourinho has convinced owner Roman Abramovich that the Serbian playmaker is key to his plans.
Galatasaray want Mikel (Mark Irwin, Sun) John Obi Mikel is wanted by Turkish champions Galatasaray in a £13million deal. The Nigerian midfielder only signed a new five-year contract in December and has never expressed any desire to leave London. But the return of Jose Mourinho has cast doubts over Mikel’s long-term future and opened the door for Galatasaray to make their move.
Chelsea go for £10m Frenchman Geoffrey Kondogbia (Sam Wallace, Independent) The 20-year-old moved to Spain last summer from Lens and was a virtual ever-present in the Seville side last season. He has been extensively scouted by Chelsea during that time – before the return of Jose Mourinho – and it is anticipated that, despite the four years left on his deal at the Spanish club, he would be a cheaper option in that position than more experienced players.
Spurs Press For Paulinho
Tottenham prepare £15m move for Brazil’s Paulinho in bid to fend off Roma and Inter (Graeme Yorke, Mail) Tottenham are to make a £15million offer for Brazilian midfielder Paulinho to head off competition from Roma and Inter Milan. The move comes as Fenerbahce revive interest in striker Emmanuel Adebayor which could help free up further funds.
Monday, June 17th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I love being back up in Newcastle, irrespective of the situation I had with the media. I’m one of those fellas that has to speak my mind. I’m never one that holds back, and if I’ve got something to say, I’ll say it. Geordies are Geordies. They want people from that area to work for that club. But you’ve got numerous international managers from all parts of the world. Because I wasn’t a Geordie, for some reason that went against me. Because my record speaks for itself, it’s there for everybody to see. But I got over that, maybe my reaction was a little bit over the top but half of the stuff that was written was very disappointing. But it’s all finished now… I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to come back. I have turned down managerial jobs in the lower leagues, because I felt I’d gone past that and I wanted to get my teeth into something in the Premier League. It’s an interesting role for myself and I don’t think I could be at a better club to do it. I signed it with Mike [Ashley, the Newcastle owner] today and that’s taken care of. I intend to meet Alan either tomorrow or within the coming week to discuss the future and go through the team itself. We will discuss where it’s glaringly clear we need to improve and that will be my job, to go and find those players.” – Joe Kinnear.
Runner-up: “To win the league under David Moyes would be phenomenal. Last season was one of the best when we won title No 20 but this could go beyond that. To win it at the first attempt with a new man in charge would be something special.” – Rio Ferdinand.
Shock: Kinnear Returns To Newcastle
Joe Kinnear’s return to Newcastle comes as the Magpies need stability and common sense. What could go wrong? (Simon Bird, Mirror) Why is this such a big deal? Kinnear’s record while boss was unspectacular, setting the course for relegation before he was sidelined by ill health in February 2009. Is he the perfect deal maker? When boss, he claimed Michael Owen was signing a new contract (it didn’t happen). He said Nicky Butt was staying long term (it didn’t happen). He had top Argentinians playing in Italy on the verge of signing (it didn’t happen). Every other week was “D-day” for Ashley to sell the club (it never happened).
Toon fury at Joe’s return (David Coverdale, Sun) Furious Newcastle fans hit out last night after Joe Kinnear was sensationally appointed as the club’s director of football. Toon owner Mike Ashley plucked the former Wimbledon boss out of the football wilderness for a second time to bring him back to St James’ Park.
You must be Joe-king, Newcastle… Flop boss Kinnear makes sensational return as director of football alongside Pardew (Sam Cunningham, Mail) Kinnear was manager for six months four-and-a-half years ago but was forced to quit in February 2009 through ill-health after suffering a heart attack. The club were relegated at the end of the season. Now he insists he is fighting fit and has accepted a far more powerful role which puts him in charge of transfers… Kinnear’s first job will be to target a new striker. Demba Ba was not replaced after he joined Chelsea in January and the side struggled for goals.
Joe Kinnear stuns Newcastle fans by returning as director of football (Dominic Fifield, Guardian) Joe Kinnear has insisted there are “no issues whatsoever” with Alan Pardew after his surprise appointment as Newcastle United’s director of football, a role that apparently includes the final say on incoming and outgoing transfers, appeared to undermine the manager’s authority at St James’ Park.
Bale Gets Trademarked, PSG Plot Mega Spurs Bids
Bale’s heart of gold (Mike McGarth, Sun) Gareth Bale is set to make a fortune after trademarking his goal celebration and shirt number. The ‘Eleven Of Hearts’ logo is the first step in marketing the Tottenham star as a global brand. And it could see the flying Welshman net over £10million a year in endorsements alone.
PSG plot £85million Gareth Bale bid in effort to land Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas (Neil McLeman, Mirror) PSG have offered to buy Gareth Bale in a bid to lure Andre Villas-Boas to the French capital. The Tottenham manager turned down a first approach from the Qatari-owned club to move to Paris next season. But PSG have now returned determined to land the 35-year-old Portuguese – and have discussed a world record £85m bid for Bale as part of the negotiations. Chelsea defender David Luiz is also on their shopping list.
PSG escalate interest in Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas (Dominic Fifield, Guardian) Paris St-Germain continue to covet the Tottenham Hotspur manager André Villas-Boas, having been offered no reason, as yet, to suppose their desire to lure him to the Parc des Princes will be dismissed out of hand by the Portuguese… It remains to be seen whether Villas-Boas, who has been on holiday, is indeed tempted to swap the Premier League for Paris having recently expressed a desire to start a second season at the same club for the first time.
Morata Makeweight in Suarez Deal?
Luis Suarez’s Real Madrid move edges closer as Liverpool eye Spain starlet Alvaro Morata as makeweight (David Maddock, Mirror) Luis Suarez will get his wish to join Real Madrid – but only if the Spanish giants sweeten the deal with one of their most promising youngsters. Liverpool are now ready to listen to offers for their wantaway striker, but have made clear they will not budge a penny below the £40million clause built into the Uruguayan’s contract that triggers a transfer… [Liverpool] have identified the top scorer at this summer’s European Under-21 Championship Alvaro Morata as a possible makeweight in any deal to ensure they get the full value for the player.
Mourinho’s Chelsea Mission
This time around Mourinho needs to win a lot more than just trophies (Kevin Garside, Independent) The summary dismissal of the man who brought the ultimate prize to Chelsea, however fortuitously, is proof that winning is not enough for Roman Abramovich. The courtship of Guardiola suggests that, after 10 years at Stamford Bridge, Abramovich wants his team to capture the imagination as well as trophies. This is Mourinho’s challenge. We know he can win football matches, but can he make the heart beat faster? If the story continues to be about him, as his Fergie snippet suggests, you would have to question how much has changed. If nothing has, why should we believe that, three years from now, outcomes will be any different? Fergie might have gone but United remain and now he has Manchester City on his case. It won’t be dull, that much we can say.
Arsenal Linked To Payet
Lille star Payet on Wenger’s radar as Arsenal battle with Juventus for Higuain (Simon Jones, Mail) Arsenal are showing interest in Lille and France winger Dimitri Payet. The 26-year-old scored 12 times for the Ligue 1 club last season and could bolster Arsene Wenger’s attacking options at the Emirates. Arsenal have made a £25m offer to Real Madrid for Gonzalo Higuain which outstrips the one bid so far by Juventus. However, the Argentina forward is keen on a move to Turin.
Hull Get Bent
Bruce in Bent bid (Michael Morgan, Sun) Steve Bruce plans to hijack Newcastle’s move for Aston Villa outcast Darren Bent. The Toon are dithering over Villa’s £6million asking price and the ex-England striker’s £70,000-a-week wage demands.
Villa Seek Out Sevilla Defender
Villa set for £1.5m Luna landing from Sevilla as Lambert continues summer rebuild (Simon Jones, Mail) Paul Lambert’s summer spending spree shows no sign of slowing down, with Seville left-back Antonio Luna tipped to become Aston Villa’s next signing. The defender, who has been on loan at Majorca this season, is in talks over a £1.5m move according to reports in Spain.
Sunday, June 16th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Basically, I could play for another three or four years [with Manchester United] — or play two or three games for England and be finished in a year. It wasn’t a contest. I couldn’t sacrifice my fitness for the sake of a few more England caps. It would not have been fair on United, it would have been a disservice to the club and to England. I’ve always been a team player.” – Rio Ferdinand.
Runner-up: “I knew Ferguson was retiring months ago and I’m happy with his trust as it was big news. I imagine just a small circle of people around him knew about his decision and it was a responsibility for me to know what he planned. He told me his plan as we’re friends. And because he’s a friend, I told him the club I wanted to coach in England was Chelsea again.” – Jose Mourinho.
The Previews Begin: 2013-14 Premier League
Moyes must win the title (Harry Redknapp, Sun) Taking over from Alex Ferguson gets you about five minutes to settle in before the expectation starts piling up. He will be expected to win a first trophy in his debut year in charge of this country’s biggest club. Success will be classified as winning the Premier League and/or the Champions League. Moyes has got it a lot tougher to improve on this United team than Fergie did when he took over with them in the doldrums in 1986.
Hacking Man City
Man City fear secret scouting database could have been HACKED by employee of Premier League rival (Steve Bates, People) Manchester City’s shocking discovery that their worldwide scouting database could have been hacked by an employee of a rival Premier League club will rock football to its core. With new boss Manuel Pellegrini set to take charge , City believe their online Scout7 performance analysis system – holding detailed scouting reports of every player they have targeted at home and around the globe – has been infiltrated. An investigation is now under way to uncover the full extent of the security breach at the Etihad Stadium , how it happened – and who the culprits are. I understand City have brought in computer espionage experts to examine any possible trails.
The Battle For Winning Lew
Manuel’s United Rob fight (Martin Blackburn, Sun) Man City are ready to go head-to-head with deadly rivals United in the £25.5million chase for Borussia Dortmund star Robert Lewandowski. Manuel Pellegrini’s Blues have been in touch with the Polish forward’s representatives to verbally register their interest. And City have indicated they are willing to make him one of their best-paid players with wages of around £200,000 a week.
City Target Guardiola (Bullshit Story!)
Is Manuel Pellegrini keeping seat warm for Pep? (John Richardson, Express) Manuel Pellegrini’s brave new world at Manchester City could be short-lived as his employers still covet former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. A three-year contract signed by the 59-year-old Chilean won’t offer any protection if Guardiola suddenly becomes available.
Torres Wants Chelsea Stay, Wes In?
Torres: I don’t want to go to Barcelona… I want Mourinho to make me the world’s best striker again (Rik Sharma, Mail) In a wide-ranging interview with Spanish news site AS, Torres spoke of his hopes for next season. ‘I want to continue, I want to complete the contract I signed and continue winning trophies and I would like to be the best in the world in my position again,’ he explained. ’There’s no better place than to be than at Chelsea with Mourinho.’
Chelsea set to up their interest in Wesley Sneijder after Jose Mourinho asks Roman to buy the Dutchman (Tom Hopkinson, People) Sunday People Sport believes the Portuguese, who made Andre Schurrle the first signing of his second coming at Stamford Bridge this week, asked Blues owner Roman Abramovich to sign the Dutchman before his return to west London was confirmed.
Juan Mata ignoring Chelsea exit reports (Observer) ”Nobody at Chelsea has told me that Mourinho wants me out,” he said in quotes carried by the Spanish sports publication Marca. “When I finished the season I was told that they were very happy with my performances and with the two years I’ve spent with the club. “I have three years left on my contract. I’m very happy with Chelsea. Mourinho? I’d prefer to wait until I meet him and work with him before I judge him. That’s simple logic.”
Chelsea’s Mikel John Obi attracts interest from Galatasaray (Dominic Fifield, Observer) Mikel, one of five senior players who remain on the books at Stamford Bridge from José Mourinho’s first spell in charge at the club, is aware of the Turkish champions’ intent but is not agitating to leave. The 26-year-old will instead gauge Chelsea’s reaction to any offer that is tabled – it would have to exceed £12m for a player who is contracted until 2017 – and then scrutinise what personal terms Gala would put forward to entice him to Istanbul.
Nani To Arsenal?
Arsenal favourites to sign Nani from Manchester United (Tony Stenson, Star) Arsenal are surprise favourites to sign Nani from Manchester United. They have caught the bookies’ eye after leading contenders Galatasaray pulled the plug when their £6million bid was rejected.
Suarez Still Wants Out Of Anfield, Goalie Almost In
Lu must listen to what I want (Carl Long, Sun) The Uruguayan, 26, said: “I have a contract but if one day I want to sign for another club, Liverpool have to hear the offer.”
Luis Suarez’s Liverpool exit could be sped up by player’s plans for short summer break (Bill Mills, People) Luis Suarez is planning to cut short his summer break to force his departure from Liverpool. The Uruguayan striker remains determined to quit Anfield this summer and wants to meet with boss Brendan Rodgers and chief executive Ian Ayre for showdown talks once the Confederations Cup is over… Suarez feels that the chance to join a club of Madrid’s stature cannot be wasted.
Reds to Kop keeper Mig (David Coverdale, Sun) Liverpool are closing in on Sunderland stopper Simon Mignolet. Brendan Rodgers hopes to complete a deal for the Belgian next week in a move which could signal the exit of current No1 Pepe Reina. The Reds have offered £8m for Mignolet while Sunderland are holding out for £10m.
By Jove, Everyone Wants Him
Man City handed first refusal on Fiorentina’s Stevan Jovetic leaving Chelsea and Arsenal nervous (Matt Law, People) Manchester City think they will be given first refusal on Stevan Jovetic. And that would mean a nervous wait for Chelsea and Arsenal to see if City want to add £25million-rated striker to their squad. City struck up a good relationship with Jovetic’s club Fiorentina last summer while negotiating the Matija Nastasic transfer that saw Stefan Savic move in the opposite direction.
Tiote Forcing Toon Exit
Tiote seeks talks with Newcastle over Wonga kit deal after Cisse disquiet (Joe Bernstein, Mail) A second Newcastle player has taken legal advice over the club’s sponsorship deal with loans company Wonga. Cheick Tiote is set to meet the club this week to ask them not to use promotional shots of him wearing their new branded kit. Striker Papiss Cisse has already expressed his disquiet about the Wonga partnership but he and fellow Muslim players Tiote, Massaido Haidara, Hatem Ben Arfa and Moussa Sissoko did pose in the new strip emblazoned with the wonga.com logo in a photo session for the first-team squad in April to promote the company.
The Other Transfer Lies
New boys Crystal Palace bid to hijack Swansea move for West Brom striker Odemwingie (Mail) Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins is reluctant to buy Odemwingie, who embarrassed himself in January by turning up at Loftus Road to speak to QPR, even though Albion had not given him permission.
Thomas Rogne in demand (Express) Rogne, who played for Norway in their European Under-21 Championships win over England, is being chased by several Championship clubs including Middlesbrough and Birmingham City.
Friday, June 14th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false.” – Cristiano Ronaldo.
Is Ronaldo heading back to Manchester United?
Cristiano Ronaldo Manchester United return odds tumble after he denies signing new Real Madrid deal (Martin Lipton, Daily Mirror) Cristiano Ronaldo has angrily denied claims he had signed a new Real Madrid contract. The odds tumbled on the 27-year-old making a dramatic return to Manchester United when he tweeted: “All the news about my renewal with Real Madrid are false.” United manager David Moyes is hoping he can persuade the Portuguese superstar to return to Old Trafford as he tweaks the title-winning squad he’s inherited following Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement, but Ronaldo plans to see out his current deal at the Bernabeu. He has two seasons left on the six-year Real contract signed after his world record £80million move from the Reds to Madrid in 2009. It is understood that Ronaldo’s strategy is to run down his contract – allowing him to leave for nothing in 2015 – then demand a £60m signing-on fee from his next club.
United on red alert as Ronaldo denies he has signed a new Madrid contract (Simon Jones, Daily Mail) Cristiano Ronaldo’s move back to the Barclays Premier League was a step closer after the £80million forward dismissed reports that he had signed a new contract with Real Madrid. As Sportsmail revealed last month, Manchester United are confident of re-signing the 28-year-old and that view will be strengthened by Ronaldo’s public rejection of claims that he is ready to sign a deal to stay at the Bernabeu for the rest of his career.
If not Ronaldo, then Bale for United, say The Sun
Bale of the century (Neil Custis, Sun) Manchester United are ready to smash the world transfer record to prove there is life after Alex Ferguson. The Glazers will hand new boss David Moyes more money than ever before to land Cristiano Ronaldo OR Gareth Bale. Ronaldo yesterday opened the door to a return to Old Trafford by insisting his future at Real Madrid is far from certain. But if he signs a new deal at Real, Moyes is set to splash a record £85million to land Tottenham’s double Footballer of the Year Bale. United’s American owners are determined the club will continue to be a major European force despite Fergie’s retirement.
Cavani too expensive, Chelsea turn to Lewandowski
Chelsea refuse to take part in bid war for £53m Edinson Cavani and turn attentions to Robert Lewandowski (Jason Burt, Daily Telegraph) Chelsea have finally agreed an £18 million deal to sign Germany international André Schürrle, but will not enter a bidding war for Napoli striker Edinson Cavani and are now considering a move for Borussia Dortmund’s Robert Lewandowski instead. Cavani is among the targets being pursued by Chelsea as new manager Jose Mourinho is given the funds to strengthen his forward line. It will contain Schürrle, who can play on the left of a three-man attack, after a deal was finally thrashed out with Bayer Leverkusen for the 22-year-old. Telegraph Sport revealed a year ago that Chelsea were bidding for Schürrle, who had been identified as a potential signing by Andre Villas-Boas when he was the club’s manager.
Mourinho’s dangerous game
Jose Mourinho is playing a dangerous game at Chelsea (Jim White, Daily Telegraph) If nothing else, the new Chelsea methodology is a shrewd way to circumvent FFP. It goes like this: buy up a bus-load of youthful prospects at prices much lower than you would have to pay for a fully formed player. Then get other clubs to run your research and development programme by loaning the youngsters out to see if they are made of the right stuff. If they are not, well you can still probably turn a profit on the original investment by selling them to the borrowing club. But if they are, you bring them back. As a system it can be brilliant. After a season polished by Steve Clarke at the Hawthorns, Romelu Lukaku will return to Stamford Bridge a much more significant – and valuable – prospect. As Mourinho put it, a major signing but at zero apparent cost. Sure, there is nothing new in the methodology: Manchester United have used the loan system to hone players since David Beckham was dispatched to Preston in the mid-Nineties. But in scale and reach, Chelsea have taken it to a new level.
Martinez fights to keep Baines at Everton
Everton ready to make Manchester United target Leighton Baines their highest earner (David Anderson, Daily Mirror) Everton will offer to make Leighton Baines their best-paid player in an attempt to stop him being lured to Manchester United by David Moyes. The Goodison club are aware that outgoing boss Moyes would like to take Baines with him to champions United, where he will spend the summer tweaking the squad he is inheriting from the retiring Alex Ferguson. They want to head off the Scot by offering their England left-back a new deal. Baines, 28, has two years left on a £44,000-a-week contract, and the Toffees are ready to offer him £65k per week to stay.
Gervinho set for Arsenal exit
Gervinho nears Arsenal exit as Marseille confirm interest in winger (Simon Jones, Daily Mail) Marseille have confirmed their interest in signing Arsenal striker Gervinho. The 26-year-old Ivory Coast international cost Arsenal £11m from Lille and has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League. Marseille assistant coach Franck Passi said: ‘This is a profile that interests us, yes. We want flank players, with dribbling, passing and scoring and Gervinho has this profile.’
Pellegrini still heading to City
Manchester City not concerned by delay in appointing Manuel Pellegrini (Andy Hunter, Guardian) Manchester City are unconcerned at the delay in appointing Manuel Pellegrini as their new manager and maintain that the arrival of the 59-year-old remains a formality. Pellegrini held talks in Spain last week with City’s sporting director, Txiki Begiristain, the chief executive, Ferran Soriano, and the academy head, Brian Marwood, but, while personal terms have been agreed and transfer targets discussed, his appointment has yet to be confirmed. City have refused to comment on whether contractual issues between Pellegrini and his former club Málaga are responsible for the hold-up but are adamant the deal to replace Roberto Mancini with the former Villarreal and Real Madrid coach is not under threat and will be announced shortly.
Can he fix Et? (Martin Blackburn, Sun) Manchester City hope new boss Manuel Pellegrini will help them build something special at the Etihad. And that should be no problem to the man known as ‘The Engineer’ — if his past achievements are anything to go by. The Chilean, 59, combined the final couple of years of his playing career with studying for a career in civil engineering. Today, back in Santiago, some families boast of living in homes built by the experienced former Real Madrid coach. And, soon after starting his coaching career at Universidad de Chile, he even constructed a summer house for the club physio. Dr Alejandro Orizola — now head of the club’s medical team — still enjoys it to this day and claims it was a typical gesture by his close friend.
Who next for Wigan?
Steve McClaren and Owen Coyle lead field to manage Wigan Athletic (Andy Hunter, Guardian) The Wigan Athletic chairman, Dave Whelan, hopes to appoint the club’s new manager on Friday with Steve McClaren and Owen Coyle the front-runners to succeed Roberto Martínez. The former England coach McClaren and former Bolton Wanderers manager Coyle are among 15 candidates whom Whelan has interviewed for the position this week. Mike Phelan, who recently left his role as Manchester United’s assistant manager, and the United coach René Meulensteen are also under consideration, though Whelan has indicated his preference for an out-of-work candidate. “I expect to announce something,” said the Wigan chairman. “I still have two more lads to see. I’ve seen some great lads, top managers, and it could be we have to speak to one or two of them again.”
Thursday, June 13th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: ”It is their [Jenkins' and Tutumlu's] mutual problem. It does not affect my relationship with Bayram. And it does not alter my decision to stay in Swansea. The only thing I’m interested in is having the best players available in the next season.” – Michael Laudrup
Runner-up: ”Michael Laudrup is the coach of Swansea City and he will stay as the coach. He thinks only about Swansea. He has said many times before that he will stay at Swansea. I’ve not spoken to Michael, but I’m very disappointed about the situation. I only try to bring good players for Michael while Huw Jenkins wants cheap, Championship players. I did a lot of good work for Swansea and I helped to bring players like Chico Flores, Michu, Pablo Hernandez and Jonathan de Guzman to the club.” - Michael Laudrup’s agent, Bayram Tutumlu.
Barcelona Want Torres & Loftus-Cheek
Barcelona set sights on Chelsea youngster Loftus-Cheek and make first Torres move (Simon Jones, Mail) Barcelona are back on the trail of young Chelsea midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek. The 17-year-old impressed the Spanish club’s scouts with his performance during the recent friendly with Manchester City in New York… Barcelona have also held initial talks over a £20million move for Fernando Torres.
Barca in for £17m Torres (Mark Irwin, Sun) The Spanish champs are preparing an audacious £17million bid for the misfit striker — £33m LESS than the British record transfer fee Chelsea paid Liverpool for him two years ago. New boss Jose Mourinho wants face-to-face talks with Torres before making any decisions about the club’s highest-paid player. But with the Blues chasing £54m Napoli striker Edinson Cavani, Torres knows his days are numbered.
Messi’s Tax Liability
Messi accused of £3.4million tax fraud (Karen Morrison, Sun) Superstar footballer Lionel Messi is being investigated for an alleged £3.4MILLION tax fraud in Spain. The Barcelona star and his dad, Jorge, are accused of filing fraudulent tax returns from 2006-2009 according to a spokesman for tax crime in Catalonia. The 25-year-old recognised as the best player in the world and is rumoured to earn £250,000-a-week and £13MILLION in endorsements.
Man United Want Bale To Go To Madrid
Bale the key to Ron deal (Neil Custis, Sun) United are convinced a successful £85million Real Madrid swoop for the Spurs hero will open the door for Ronaldo to return. Real president Florentino Perez claims Ron will pen a new deal but the Portuguese superstar has yet to make his mind up on his future.
Swansea Sever Laudrup Ties
Michael Laudrup undermined as Swansea City cut ties with his agent (Guardian) A South Wales Evening Post report suggested Tutumlu has tried to recruit players, including the St Etienne striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Wigan’s forward Arouna Koné, “behind the club’s back”… A report in the French newspaper L’Equipe on Wednesday suggested that Laudrup has become a target for Paris St-Germain, who are searching for a replacement for Carlo Ancelotti, who is set to depart the club.
Swansea cut all ties to Laudrup’s agent who they claim is planning manager’s escape (Sami Mokbel, Mail) Relations between Swansea City and Michael Laudrup fell to a new low last night, with the club severing all ties with their manager’s representative. Sportsmail can reveal that a massive disagreement between chairman Huw Jenkins and Laudrup’s agent of more than 20 years, Bayram Tutumlu, is partially respopnsible for the bust-up that could lead to the Dane’s departure this summer. In a series of damning allegations, senior officials at the club have claimed Tutumlu has been attempting to dictate and control the club’s transfer policy for months and they have now taken the step of preventing him from holding any authorisation to recruit or sell players.
Isco For Man City
Pellegrini set for Isco raid (Martin Blackburn, Sun) Manchester City hope the confirmation of Manuel Pellegrini’s appointment could see Spanish wonderkid Isco follow him from Malaga… Once Pellegrini, 59, is in place they hope it will give them an edge over Real Madrid in the race to sign £17million-rated Isco.
Manchester City may lose Isco chase as Real Madrid enter talks with star’s agent (David McDonnell, Mirror) Isco and his father, who acts as his representative, have held talks with Real Madrid, who are ready to fight City for the 21-year-old.
Liverpool Linked to Piazon & Mignolet
Liverpool and Palace set sights on young Chelsea starlet Piazon for loan deal (Simon Jones, Mail) Liverpool and Crystal Palace have asked about taking Chelsea midfielder Lucas Piazon on loan. The talented 19-year-old Brazilian had a spell with Malaga last season and is eager to go on loan again so he can gain more experience.
Liverpool make £8m Mignolet No 1 target with Reina heading towards Anfield exit (Neil Moxley, Mail) Liverpool hope to sign Sunderland goalkeeper Simon Mignolet for £8million in the next week. The Merseyside club have bid £7m but the Wearsiders are holding out for nearer £10m, with the clubs likely to reach a compromise. Manager Brendan Rodgers has taken the initiative as speculation continues to link his current No 1 Pepe Reina with a switch to Barcelona, where Victor Valdes is refusing to sign a new deal.
Spurs Sweet on Barry & Guarin
Spurs eye £3.5m Barry (Andrew Dillon, Sun) Barry, 32, has one year left on his deal and would cost around £3.5million. Spurs’ highly-rated Brazilian Sandro is still on his way back to fitness after suffering a serious knee injury in January. Interest in Barry raises big questions about the future of Scott Parker under boss Andre Villas-Boas at White Hart Lane. Sunderland boss Paolo Di Canio is tracking combative midfielder Parker, 32, after the Black Cats flirted with relegation last season.
Spurs can have Fredy Guarin if they improve bid to £21million say Inter Milan (Martin Lipton, Mirror) Tottenham are close to a deal for Inter Milan midfielder Fredy Guarin – as they prepare to let Scott Parker leave. Italian giants Inter claim to have rejected an initial £17million bid for the Colombia international. But they are willing to do a deal at around £21m if Spurs can be persuaded to go that far for the 26-year-old, who the Londoners’ manager Andre Villas-Boas knows well from their time together at Porto.
England Are Rubbish At Football
English football has to change (Harry Redknapp, Sun) The overriding problem we all face is that English football must change. And it has to come from the very top of the game. That means manager Roy Hodgson getting involved with coaches at every level working in the same direction. We do not know how to play football. We just boot the ball up the pitch and it gets us nowhere. The U-21s are not kids. Players like Connor Wickham, Danny Rose, Wilfried Zaha, Jordan Henderson and others are pretty much A-list stars. Then think how many of those kids from Norway and Israel would get into a Premier League team. It doesn’t add up does it? But the problem is that the England team has no pattern of play.
The Rest Of The Transfer Lies
West Ham plot Demba Ba’s return on loan from Chelsea to link up with Carroll (Darren Lewis, Mirror) West Ham have launched a bid to bring Chelsea’s Demba Ba back to Upton Park on loan… It is understood the loan move for Ba – bought from Newcastle for £7million just five months ago – is unconnected with West Ham’s attempts to complete a £15.5m swoop for Liverpool’s England hitman Andy Carroll… Hammers boss Sam Allardyce is also targeting an audacious loan swoop for Manchester United youngster Wilfried Zaha.
Jores Okore closes in on Aston Villa switch (Express) Nordsjælland defender Jores Okore is set to join Aston Villa subject to a medical and personal terms.
Newcastle keen on Aston Villa striker Darren Bent, but not his £6m valuation and £70,000-a-week wages (Martin Hardy, Independent) Bent is eager to return to the north-east with rivals Newcastle. Fulham are also believed to have shown interest in a player who has already played for three clubs in the capital.
Wednesday, June 12th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “We’ve been beaten three times; the players have to take that on the chin. I’m not coming out here and defending anyone – I’m sick to the back teeth of doing that in this tournament. The players have to deal with that, the players have to stand out here in front of you and the cameras and explain their performance. It’s difficult to support them over the three matches we have played here. The standard we have set ourselves over a two-year period was a million miles from what we have seen at this tournament for many reasons. The bottom line is you expect your players to do the basics, hold the ball up, work back into position. If you’ve asked them to defend on the halfway line in respect to the opposition corner then you don’t expect to stand in your technical area and tell them eight or nine times every time there’s a corner; it’s basic football knowledge. I don’t honestly see why I should be defending the players, let them come out here and defend themselves.” – Stuart Pearce.
Runner-up: “I’m not here to be comfortable, to sit and earn the money and just enjoy being Liverpool manager. There’s a pressure that comes with it and I believe we’re in a much better place to challenge now. I think we can do it – I believe we have built a real good base this year. Of course, it will be a tough ask because, as we improve, other clubs will have masses more money to do so as well. But it’s not my job to look for excuses, I have to find the solutions to try to push us in there – and I believe we won’t be too far away. What we showed last season was promise. There were moments of disappointment and moments of delight, but when I look at the reality of it we scored 47 goals the year before and this time got 71 – and we hope to add to that amount. Defensively, for a team that was supposed to be very strong a year earlier, we only conceded three more goals. So in terms of numbers and performance wise we improved. Now I believe we will improve again – and we have to because we want to sustain a challenge and aim higher every season.” – Brendan Rodgers.
Monaco to bid £85m for Ronaldo
Exclusive: Monaco set to make world record £85m bid for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo (Jack Pitt-Brooke, Independent) Monaco are ready to make a world record €100m (£85m) bid for Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo. Ronaldo has just two years left on his contract at Madrid and is known to be disillusioned with life at the Santiago Bernabeu, at the end of his fourth season there. The Ligue 1 club, funded by Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev, have already spent over £110m this summer on Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid and James Rodriguez and Joao Moutinho of Porto. They are now prepared to make their boldest move yet, taking advantage of the Portuguese forward’s frustration at Madrid, and failure to sign a new deal, to tempt him to join with a world record salary offer of €20m (£17m) per year. Monaco are closely monitoring Ronaldo’s negotiations with Real Madrid over a contract extension, and if no deal is done by late July or August they will make their move. There have been talks between Monaco and Ronaldo’s camp over the last 18 months and the two parties met earlier this year.
I’d be Mad to lose Ronaldo (Antony Kastrinakis, Sun) Real Madrid last night shut the door on Cristiano Ronaldo’s £65million switch to Manchester United. President Florentino Perez is ready to offer Ronaldo more than £125million over five years to sign a new deal — and insisted it will be finalised this summer. Ronaldo’s representatives have reportedly demanded a salary of £30million a year. Madrid are confident they will seal a deal at around £25m a season — meaning the Portuguese star will earn about £250k a week NET as the new 50 per cent Spanish tax rate kicks in. Perez said: “I would bet Cristiano will retire at Real Madrid because it’s the natural thing. “We will negotiate the new contract before the start of La Liga and I am convinced that everything will come out well.”
PSG want AVB
PSG want AVB! Tottenham on alert as French champions plan raid for manager (Simon Jones, Daily Mail) Paris Saint-Germain want Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas to replace Carlo Ancelotti as their new boss. Villas-Boas has emerged as the prime candidate after a series of discussions between PSG president Nasser El-Khelaifi and his advisers. The 35-year-old Spurs coach earned recognition last season for the way he rebuilt his reputation after an ill-fated spell at Chelsea.
Manchester United can make Robert Lewandowski even richer
Double yer money, Lew (Neil Custis, Sun) Robert Lewandowski will more than double his money if he joins Manchester United. The Polish striker earns £2million a year — almost £40,000 a week — at Borussia Dortmund. But United would be prepared to pay him £90,000 a week — nearly £4.7m a year. The player was expecting to follow his team-mate Mario Gotze to Bayern Munich. But Dortmund blocked that this week saying they were adamant he would not go to their Bundesliga rivals and the team that beat them in the Champions League Final. The player himself was stunned by that development but does not believe he will still be at Dortmund next season. Lewandowski said: “I do not think that this is the final decision and I expect the situation to change. “I am enjoying my holiday for now but I hope things move forward pretty soon and the situation changes. “I do not get upset about anything.”
Wayne Rooney worried about fan reaction
Manchester United forward Wayne Rooney fears fans will not forgive him over Sir Alex Ferguson’s move claims (Mark Ogden, Daily Telegraph) Wayne Rooney will seek the public backing of David Moyes when he returns for pre-season training at Manchester United next month in an effort to prevent supporter hostility from driving him out of Old Trafford. The 27-year-old’s position at Manchester United has been shrouded in doubt since Sir Alex Ferguson claimed that the forward had asked to leave the club following a meeting with him in April. Although Ferguson’s claim has been disputed by Rooney’s advisers, the player has since been the target of criticism from supporters, many of whom booed and jeered him when he received his Premier League winners’ medal last month and then during the club’s trophy parade through the streets of Manchester the following evening. Rooney, on holiday following international duty with England in Brazil this month, has yet to resolve his United future with Moyes, despite the former Everton manager attending to club business at Old Trafford ahead of his official start date of July 1 following his appointment as successor to Ferguson.
Luis Suarez still wants to leave Liverpool
Luis Suárez reiterates that he wants to leave Liverpool (Andy Hunter, Guardian) Brendan Rodgers has welcomed the pressure of delivering a Champions League challenge with Liverpool next season and believes the club’s prospects will be enhanced by this summer’s transfer business. While Liverpool were close to completing the £7.7m signing of Iago Aspas from Celta Vigo on Tuesday, Luis Suárez gave another interview in Uruguay expressing his discontent with life in England and the attraction of a possible move to Real Madrid. The uncertainty over Suárez’s future presents a major problem for Rodgers, although Liverpool have yet to receive an official approach for the striker or transfer request from the 26-year-old. It is also Andy Carroll’s reluctance to accept a £15m move to West Ham United that is impacting on Liverpool’s immediate transfer plans, such as formalising their interest in Shakhtar Donetsk’s £22m-rated midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea squad talks
José Mourinho warns of ‘no privileges’ to Chelsea’s old guard (Dom Fifield, Guardian) José Mourinho intends to speak face to face with every member of his Chelsea squad when the players return for training next month before determining the make‑up of the group that will attempt to regain the Premier League title next term. The manager will tell all-comers they must impress him first-hand in pre-season if they are to earn a key role in the side, having made it clear there will be “no privileges” afforded to any of a party which includes a quintet of players who featured under him during his first spell at Stamford Bridge. All will be expected to buy into Mourinho’s approach and meet the demands he places on them, as the manager considers his options with 27 fringe players and youngsters due to return from loan spells seeking involvement in the senior set-up.
England’s woeful U21s
Three games, three defeats. It’s time for change. The U21s need a teacher, not a student – Hoddle must take over (Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) Gareth Southgate’s name was immediately mentioned, which seems more the FA’s speed. Nothing wrong with Southgate, who was outstanding in getting the reform of pitch and goal sizes in youth football over the line, but as his one job in club management ended in Middlesbrough’s relegation he would be another brought in to learn from the England manager, rather than enter the room as an equal. The same applies to Phil Neville. The Under 21 team need a teacher, not a student. Hoddle might challenge, might contribute ideas and would have a voice that demanded to be heard. One must presume he is older and wiser and a better man-manager than he was in 1999, too, and less, shall we say, outspoken. Those who mock him forget that, for all his faults, he got his teams playing, perhaps most impressively at Swindon Town, working with a shallow talent pool. If that is what England have now, it will need a coach of great imagination and conviction to follow Pearce into the job — not one whose remit is to sit at the feet of Hodgson, or any England manager, nodding. If Neville is involved it should be as part of a backroom team, not its leader.
Henry Winter on England U21s defeat to Israel (Daily Telegraph) There was a feeling in the England Under-21s dressing room that some of the players did not want to be at this tournament. So it showed. So they were knocked out, heading off on holidays, deservedly sent packing early for a disjointed, disinterested performance in Israel. They will not be missed. England stank these Euros out long before Ofir Kriaf’s fine goal completed their humiliation on Tuesday. The coach Stuart Pearce will doubtless pay the price for this wretched display, finishing bottom of the easier group without any points and only one goal, meaning he has won only three games out of 15 in tournaments. Club England, who meet next week, are hardly going to keep faith in a manager with such a record. Change is required.
Tuesday, June 11th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “But I am where I want to be. I wouldn’t change it for anything. If you told me now every job in the football world was at this table, I would choose my job. It’s a job I was offered and I accepted immediately, the only job I want to have. I’m still very confident. But, at the same time, I’m more stable, more mature. If I was a proud guy because of what I did before I came here, now I’ve done more: I’ve been at Inter[nazionale], [Real] Madrid, won titles … I’m very calm, very relaxed, but I didn’t just choose a comfortable position because I’m returning to a house where I was happy and successful and where the fans love me. No. I’m coming with exactly the opposite perspective. I have more responsibility because of that. The expectations are higher because people know what I can deliver.” – Jose Mourinho.
Runner-up: “Of course I would like to play with Ronaldo, he is a great player. You never know, but it is complicated. ‘At the moment he is in Madrid and I am in Liverpool and I do not know what is going to happen. I know I made a mistake in the incident with Ivanovic – it was me, my fault, and he did not do anything to me. I was angry because I had given away a penalty for handball. I was the reason for the penalty against my team – I saw red and completely lost it. I can’t really explain it and I am so sorry – but the reaction was amazing.” – Luis Suarez.
Jose wants Rooney at Chelsea
Are Roo happy like me? (Shaun Custis, Sun) Jose Mourinho has told wantaway Manchester United star Wayne Rooney: Do what makes you happy. The England striker has asked United for a transfer. And returning Chelsea boss Mourinho opened the door for a possible move to Stamford Bridge by admitting: “I like him. He is at a fantastic age. “He has maturity, big experience and is still young. It’s up to him and what he wants, what makes him happy.” Rooney, 27, is due to have talks with new Old Trafford boss David Moyes over his future following Alex Ferguson’s retirement. But it is understood he is interested in what Chelsea have to say. Mourinho added: “He’s a little bit like me. He doesn’t need one more pound in his contract and one more cup won’t make a difference. Be happy. “Where is he happy? Where will he find more happiness to have ambition and drive him?”
Manchester United linked with Robert Lewandowski
Defiant Dortmund dangle Robert Lewandowski in front of Manchester United (David Anderson, Daily Mirror) Manchester United can have Roberto Lewandowski for £25.5million after his club Borussia Dortmund blocked the striker’s move to German rivals Bayern Munich. Dortmund are adamant Poland international Lewandowski will NOT be joining Bayern, who they finished as runners-up to in last season’s German league and European Cup Final, this summer. And that has opened the door for Premier League champions United to launch a bid, with Dortmund not standing in the way of a move to England. Outgoing United boss Sir Alex Ferguson tracked the Polish hitman last summer and considered signing him before he opted for Robin van Persie. Now, Fergie’s successor David Moyes has inherited the club’s scouting dossier on Lewandowski and must decide if he wants to rekindle their interest at a time when there is uncertainty over Wayne Rooney’s future at Old Trafford. Dortmund are demanding 30million euros (£25.5m) for Lewandowski, who has 12 months left on his contract and can walk away for nothing this time next year.
Fabregas also set for Old Trafford
Fab news for Red Devils as Cesc and Lewandowski give Moyes the nod (Ian Ladyman, Daily Mail) Manchester United are increasingly confident they can bring Cesc Fabregas and Robert Lewandowski to Old Trafford this summer after being given private encouragement from both players. New United manager David Moyes would ideally like to bring both the Barcelona midfielder and Borussia Dortmund’s Polish international striker to the club before his squad departs on a tour of Asia and Australia in the middle of next month. It is understood that both players have expressed an interest in joining the Barclays Premier League champions and that United feel they can do the deals.
Is Thiago Alcantara heading to Manchester?
Manchester United join neighbours City in chase for Barcelona’s Thiago Alcantara (Alan Nixon, Daily Mirror) New Manchester United boss David Moyes has launched a £15million bid to sign Barcelona starlet Thiago Alcantara. Moyes has put chief scout Jim Lawlor on the case to set up a deal for Spain Under-21 skipper Alcantara, who is currently on duty at the age-group European Championship in Israel. Midfielder Alcantara is available as Barca are willing to cash in for big money, and he is growing fed up at a lack of regular game-time. The young star, who’s also being linked with Manchester City, has been on Moyes’ radar before, but he was out of touch when he was in charge at Everton. Now though, with the greater financial clout of United behind him, wheels are turning.
Florentino Perez compares Gareth Bale to Rafa Nadal
Real Madrid hint at bid for Spurs’ Gareth Bale that would smash their £80m world transfer record (Darren Lewis, Daily Mirror) Real Madrid chief Florentino Perez has insisted Gareth Bale would be worth the world record £85million it would take to sign him. Such a monster price-tag would top the current record – the £80m Real paid Manchester United for Cristiano Ronaldo four years ago. But Perez puts buying Wales forward Bale on a par with investing in tennis winning-machine Rafael Nadal, who lifted his record-breaking eighth French Open title on Sunday. Perez said: “It is the same as one would think if we had a tennis section and Nadal was asking us for all this money. “For these players that generate and produce income, you can give your whole life.”
Real Madrid’s warning to Arsenal over Gonzalo Higuain
Perez: Get Real, Arsenal (Antony Kastrinakis, Sun) Florentino Perez has told Arsenal to get Real over their valuation of Madrid star Gonzalo Higuain. The Gunners are locked in a tug of war with Juventus for the Argentina striker and Perez hinted he will cost upwards of £30m — much more than the £20m Arsenal were set to offer. Real president Perez insisted he will demand top dollar for Higuain, 25, who has three years left on his Madrid deal. He said: “With £25.5m it’s better that they don’t come. “Let’s see if people ask us for £50m for everyone and we sell one of ours for half that.” Perez has decided to block any bids for Higuain before finalizing the capture of new boss Carlo Ancelotti from Paris Saint-Germain.
Reaction to Jose Mourinho’s first presser as returning Chelsea boss
New era, but same old Jose! Don’t be fooled by the quiet start, Mourinho is back at Chelsea ready for a scrap (Martin Samuel, Daily Mail) Happy, home, humble. Those expecting a bravura, ego-has-landed performance from Jose Mourinho on his return to Stamford Bridge would have been left slightly disappointed by the sight before their eyes. In the place of His Specialness — as Carlo Ancelotti took to calling him — was a bespectacled, grey-haired 50-year-old, quieter, wiser, sober-suited and no longer intent on beating the hornets’ nest with a stick. The word du jour was stability. Mourinho craved it, so did Chelsea. They were the perfect match. Mourinho even claimed that improvement in his first season, rather than the league title or ultimate goal of the Champions League, would be enough to satisfy the insatiable appetite of owner Roman Abramovich.
José Mourinho relishes return to Chelsea and beloved Premier League (Daniel Taylor, Guardian) There was a moment, away from all the cameras, when José Mourinho could sit down and try to put into words what has changed at the age of 50. “More grey hair,” he began. Then he reached into the inside pocket of his suit jacket and pulled out a pair of reading glasses. “And these …” The new José, he told us. Older, wiser. Less confrontational, more clued-up. “Humble” was the word he used. Well, until the moment he was reminded of the time, at one of his first Chelsea press conferences, he had lifted his hand above his head to show approximately where he regarded his own ego. Did he still feel the same? “Of course,” he replied, and for the first time he cracked a smile. “I’m still very confident. But, at the same time, I’m more stable, more mature. If I was a proud guy because of what I did before, now I’ve done more. I’ve been at Inter Milan, Real Madrid, I’ve won titles. The only thing that affects me is the glasses, man. After that, I’m happier than ever.”
José Mourinho’s unveiling fails even to excite the Portuguese himself (Barney Ronay, Guardian) The point is, everybody here is happy. In particular José himself, sitting at the head of the table like a disappointed dad grimly insisting that everybody, everybody in this family, is going to get on from now on. He just didn’t actually look it – although no doubt that will come and there was enough here in his exploratory jabs and nips at his fellow Premier League managers to suggest the season will deliver the required adversarial drama. Plus of course even for José, who during the working season employs the press conference as a kind of pre-emptive artillery barrage, this must have seemed a strangely hollow, massively important event, a muscular and mob-handed furore that was in effect entirely pointless given Mourinho has no match to prepare for, no plan in place, hasn’t met his players and isn’t likely to tell you about it anyway, even if he had. “My enemies read tomorrow’s newspapers,” he said at one point (his enemies are, of course, disastrously Old Media).
Who’s this guy? The Especially Happy One (Steven Howard, Sun) Well, it certainly looked like Jose Mourinho. A bit older, maybe, a few more grey hairs and now requiring a pair of spectacles. But it didn’t sound like him. Where was the old rabble-rouser, the scourge of referees, the man described by UEFA as “the enemy of football”? The man who drove Anders Frisk into retirement, alienated fans and managers all over Italy and Spain with his outrageous comments and, infamously, poked then-Barcelona assistant manager Tito Vilanova in the eye during a Spanish Super Cup match at the Nou Camp? And then, for good measure, referred to him as “Pito” Vilanova — Spanish slang for penis. We scoured Stamford Bridge but he was nowhere to be seen. In his place was this smooth-talking diplomat, this 50-year-old family man who had learned from all his mistakes and wouldn’t now be saying boo — or moo — to a goose. A man in total contrast to the young shaver who came charging into Stamford Bridge trumpeting his huge success at Porto, slagging off former Chelsea boss Claudio Ranieri as a man who had only ever won the Spanish Cup and then anointing himself as the Special One.
Jose Mourinho preached happiness during his second unveiling as new Chelsea manager, but appeared sombre (Jim White, Daily Telegraph) It wasn’t like this when Avram Grant was introduced. They are used to unveiling new managers at Chelsea, but this time, what has become a mundane, annual event at Stamford Bridge was sprinkled in star dust. Jose Mourinho’s second coming attracted such a huge crowd to the Ron Harris Suite, it was a ticket only event. More than 250 journalists, 45 television crews and a flashmob of photographers were assembled to bring word of the Special One’s return across the world. This was The Special One Part Two. And when he arrived, through a guard of honour of telephoto lenses, as he stood at the top table, holding up a Chelsea shirt, the television news anchors would have been obliged to issue their standard warning about flash photography. The room was alight in excitement, giddy with the privilege of reporting the return to the Premier League of box office.
Jack Rodwell’s England handling shames Roy Hodgson, Stuart Pearce and the Football Association (Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph) When England’s troubled power brokers gather for the post-mortem on the stiffening cadaver of the Under-21s’ brief and traumatic stay at the European Championship in Israel, the revealing case of Jack Rodwell must pepper their conversation and shape their conclusions. Rodwell represents many of the hopes and fears, missed opportunities and misuse that define a generation. England will not improve in the short term or long term unless they learn the lesson of Rodwell. For all Stuart Pearce’s anger at losing players to the England first team, the Under-21s manager could have selected the Manchester City player, who was eventually scrambled for senior duty by Roy Hodgson only when Tom Cleverley fell lame. So England went into action in Israel with less accomplished midfielders like Jason Lowe and Jonjo Shelvey partnering the captain Jordan Henderson in the first Group A challenge against Italy, a game when England’s inability to keep the ball was painfully highlighted. Rodwell would have done better. He certainly could not have done any worse.
Could England’s Under-21 nightmare in Israel prompt a remarkable international recall for Glenn Hoddle? (Jonathan Liew, Daily Telegraph) In England’s hour of darkness, Hoddle has become a keyboard shortcut for “the right sort of football”. There is a double nostalgia at work here. Not just for Hoddle the player, a shimmying allegory for English football’s ambivalent relationship with genius, but for Hoddle the coach, to whom posterity has been surprisingly kind. In the age of the fascist Premier League manager, Hoddle’s downfall is a relic of a more innocent age, in which reasonably successful England bosses could be dispensed with because of dubious personal beliefs, rather than hired in spite of them. The question is whether today’s Hoddle is anything more than an armful of happy memories. Certainly, it is arguable whether he could do anything with England’s present-day crop. With the most gifted youngsters quickly siphoned into full colours, the current squad is full of quasi-talents like Danny Rose, a player whose entire existence essentially boils down to one moment of grace – a 35-yard thunderbolt in the north London derby in 2010 – which with hindsight now looks like a wildly auspicious attempt to trap the ball.
Mario Balotelli to get married
Balo asks Fanny to Mari him (Richard Moriarty, Sun) Mario Balotelli is set to wed girlfriend Fanny Neguesha — after proposing with a £100,000 ring. The former Manchester City ace gave the Belgian beauty a huge diamond sparkler at the weekend. The happy couple, who began dating six months ago, are now planning a lavish ceremony for later this year. Fanny posted a pic of her ring on her Instagram page, with the caption: “It official . . . like me.”
Monday, June 10th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “You have always got to support the England senior manager in the pressure that he is under of wanting his strongest squad. A lot of people would say it was a very important game, a dry run for the World Cup. Nobody can argue that the World Cup shouldn’t take priority.” - David Bernstein, the Football Association chairman.
Runner-up: “I think with the Under-21s, and with football in general in England, the quality has gone down. Yes, there are some really good players coming up, but, on the whole, they think they’re there already. There are a lot of other countries around the world with very good players on top of their game but continue to work hard. They might be playing for the first teams already but they don’t lose it. They do not think they have made it already. You keep on learning, you have got to keep on striving and that is what I feel has gone from English football.” – Sol Campbell.
Arsenal Losing Higuain Chase
Juve not Gon to Arsenal yet (Shaun Custis, Sun) Juventus have hit back at Arsenal in the fight for Real Madrid striker Gonzalo Higuain… Wenger has made it clear that Arsenal want Higuain and that they are prepared to bid £19million for the Argentina international as well as paying him £150,000-a-week… Juve are desperate to land Higuain who, at the age of 25, still has his best years ahead of him.
Ronaldo Is Staying In Madrid, Is Bale Coming?
Big Flor in United bid for Ronnie (Vic Holly, Sun) Cristiano Ronaldo is ready to commit his future to Real Madrid, according to president Florentino Perez… Perez last night claimed Ron is ready to discuss new terms. He said: “My aim, Cristiano’s aim and the aim of all Real Madrid fans is that he carries on playing here for many years to come.”
Zidane hints Madrid are prepared to smash world transfer record to sign £85m Bale (John Drayton, Mail) The astronomical fee would be almost impossible for Spurs to refuse with Bernabeu chief Florentino Perez pinpointing the Wales superstar as his prime target. Bale could be taken to Madrid to replace Ronaldo ,who has been linked with a move back to Old Trafford.
Torres + Cash = Cavani
Rafa Benitez has his sights on bringing Chelsea’s Fernando Torres to Napoli (Tony Banks, Express) Benitez, now Napoli manager following his interim job at Chelsea, has told owner Aurelio De Laurentiis that he would be happy if the Serie A club could get Torres plus cash in exchange for Cavani – the £53million Uruguay striker who is top of Jose Mourinho’s shopping list. Napoli are resigned to losing Cavani if the asking price is met. Chelsea regard that as too high, having had an opening £40m enquiry rejected last week, but are prepared to exchange players.
U21 Losers, Southgate For Psycho
England U21s would have been torn to shreds by Germany, Spain or Holland. The golden generation this ain’t (Martin Samuel, Mail) We prefer the fast-track, the hype, exaltation and deflation. It would not occur to England’s hierarchy that Jack Rodwell might have been better off playing a minimum of three group games in a fiercely competitive climate, rather than seven minutes of a friendly in Brazil… If the performance of the Under 21 team is a glimpse of the future, no wonder the FA are struggling to shift the 17,500 Club Wembley debentures due to expire in 2017. The golden generation it ain’t.
Southgate is tip for Stu’s job (Paul Jiggins, Sun) Stuart Pearce is facing the axe after England Under-21s crashed out of Euro 2013… Former Middlesbrough boss Gareth Southgate is one of the leading contenders to take over. Peter Taylor and Phil Neville have also been linked with the job, as has ex- England chief Glenn Hoddle.
Blame Roy and FA for this fiasco (Steven Howard, Sun) Excuses have already been made for Stuart Pearce in that a whole raft of players — 17 in all — were unavailable to him. Yet the team that collapsed against Norway — following their earlier defeat by Italy — was scarcely any weaker than the England sides that beat the Norwegians home and away in the qualifiers… Right now, the FA have to appoint a new U21 boss. Gareth Southgate has been suggested, which would be totally the wrong appointment. How on earth can they go for him — however nice a guy he might be — when he has already turned his back on them, choosing ITV instead? Glenn Hoddle, with Phil Neville as his No 2, would combine experience and tactical acumen with intelligence and enthusiasm. Of course, Hoddle would have to explain once more how his views on the disabled that originally contributed to him losing the senior England job were “misinterpreted”. Then again, nothing is ever simple where English football is concerned.
Foreign invasion great for the Premier League but it’s disaster for the England team (Terry Butcher, Mirror) There is no need now for a manager or head coach to have knowledge of English football. But they do require a real awareness of European and world markets, complemented by an understanding of modern trends from around the globe. Even the Premier League’s rule on “homegrown players” is a farce because there is no restriction on nationality if the player has been registered with a club for three entire seasons prior to his 21th birthday.
Jose Mourinho, The Second Coming
Will we see the mature Mourinho or the spiky character who divided opinion in Spain? It’s time for Jose to show his hand (Simon Jones, Mail) European scout Mick Doherty has also played a pivotal role. He has been compiling reports on Napoli’s Edinson Cavani since 2011. That £53m deal remains in negotiation. A £34.9m bid for Zenit’s Hulk is on the table, Porto centre back Eliaquim Mangala, Vitesse Arnhem’s Marco van Ginkel, Roma’s Daniele de Rossi and Real Madrid’s Xabi Alonso and Sami Khedira figure on the wish list. Fiorentina are battling to keep Stevan Jovetic so Manchester City’s Edin Dzeko is the back-up option.
A second coming it may be but Jose Mourinho faces fresh set of questions at Chelsea (Sam wallace, Independent) Mourinho ticked off the key questions: he is here for the long-term this time; he has evolved as a manager; he will not be complacent in spite of his popularity and he is treating this partnership like a marriage. And he has only ever had one of those. Whether this new spirit of cooperation lasts is anyone’s guess, but he is trying. Yet Mourinho will want to find something else that will make an impact. The ultimate prize, the Champions League, has been won by Chelsea in his absence so what else can he offer?
Can Fans Impact Football Teams?
High time Premier League clubs began listening to long-suffering fans (Sean Ingle, Guardian) It is no bad thing to remind the game’s powers of a fundamental truth: that while fans need their football clubs – often to an unhealthy, addictive degree – clubs need fans, too. It is a symbiotic relationship, but hardly a fair one. It is clearly more beneficial to one party than the other. Sometimes it strays near to parasitism. Without supporters putting bums on seats the product loses some of its lustre. The atmosphere generated by fans stirring the pot would decline further. Overseas TV rights might not be so lucrative. And many clubs’ balance sheets, which are unhealthy even with all the money sloshing around, would be on life support. Yet how many Premier League clubs have supporters on their boards? Or regularly address the concerns of fans? Too often there is the illusion of participation.
Sunday, June 9th, 2013
Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “Did you not see me training? I was speaking to Robbie Fowler about (retirement) the other week. He hasn’t officially retired. Three weeks ago, everyone in the world seemed to be retiring. I thought ‘I’m not jumping on this bandwagon’.’ I just wanted it to be a smooth, quiet turnover. I didn’t want that (focus). When I made a statement that I was leaving Everton, everywhere I went I seemed to be getting “oh you’ve been brilliant”. I didn’t like it. I didn’t want to be seen as an attention seeker. In my heart, I knew I wouldn’t be playing again – at any level. I just wanted to drift away. The biggest thing I will miss is July 4, when Everton are due back for pre-season training. I loved that day. I lived for it, getting back with the lads… My wife, Julie, she knows what I’m like. She’s saying “for God’s sake, don’t have any more time off!”‘ – Phil Neville.
Runner-up: “I am well, calm and not worried about it. I know we will reach a deal.” – Cristiano Ronaldo confident of a new Real Madrid deal.
Arsenal linked with Higuain, Gundogan & Lars Bender
Arsenal ready to smash records in £62m splurge on Higuain, Gundogan and Bender (Rob Draper, Mail on Sunday) Arsene Wenger is ready to smash Arsenal’s transfer record this week with bids for three of Europe’s fastest-rising stars. The news that the club are thinking big, with moves for Real Madrid’s Gonzalo Higuain, Borussia Dortmund’s Ilkay Gundogan and Bayer Leverkusen’s Lars Bender, will come as a massive relief to Arsenal fans after years of frugality and summers of losing their own stars. Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis promised ‘an escalation in our financial firepower’ last week and Wenger is convinced he can transform his team into title contenders. The Arsenal manager believes that Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement from Manchester United represents an opportunity for the for the club to regain some prestige and challenge for the title and the signing of Argentina striker Higuain is expected to be their most important transfer of the summer at around £25million.
Manchester City want Di Maria
Manuel Pellegrini targets £30m Angel Di Maria for Manchester City title challenge (Tom Hopkinson, Steve Bates, People) Manuel Pellegrini takes charge of Manchester City this week and will ask Etihad chiefs to sanction a move for £30million Real Madrid star Angel Di Maria, write the Sunday People’s Tom Hopkinson and Steve Bates. Ex-Malaga boss Pellegrini loves wingers and has already given the thumbs-up to the arrival of Sevilla wideman Jesus Navas – whose £17m City switch was revealed exclusively by Sunday People Sport last week. Now Pellegrini has made Di Maria – highly rated at the Bernabeu – his next target as City prepare to break the bank to win back the Premier League title. City have already splashed out more than £50m on Navas and Brazil star Fernandinho, and Di Maria would take their summer spending past the £80m mark.
Chelsea in for Alonso
Jose Mourinho to target Xabi Alonso as he starts to rebuild the Chelsea attack (Jason Burt, Sunday Telegraph) The former Liverpool midfielder was highly rated by Mourinho at Real and has just one year left on his contract, having not responded to Real’s offer of a two-year extension. Alonso underwent groin surgery in Munich last week but hopes to be fit for next season. The 31-year-old has claimed to have made his peace with Chelsea’s Frank Lampard after the pair clashed several times when the Spaniard was at Liverpool. Mourinho could also attempt to hijack Manchester City’s attempts to sign striker Edinson Cavani or make a move for Fiorentina’s Stefan Jovetic.
Chelsea ahead of United in race for Eliaquim Mangala
Chelsea nip ahead of Manchester United for Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala – because of David Moyes’ holiday! (Steve Bates, People) Chelsea have stolen ahead in the race to sign Porto’s Eliaquim Mangala – with new Manchester United boss David Moyes on holiday, writes the Sunday People’s Steve Bates. Now Sir Alex Ferguson has gone and chief executive David Gill is clearing his desk, no one is holding the fort at Old Trafford in the absence of Moyes. That has given Chelsea the edge as they bid to sign the 22-year-old France defender. Mangala was tracked by incoming Blues manager Jose Mourinho while he was in charge at Real Madrid. And Mourinho’s interest has increased now he is back at Stamford Bridge as he looks to put pressure on centre-backs David Luiz, Gary Cahill, Branislav Ivanovic and John Terry. He believes the defence needs a revamp and is impressed by Mangala’s speed and strength.
Nani set to leave United
Nani could be for hire (Geoff Sweet, Sunday Sun) Nani will call David Moyes tomorrow before making an announcement on his future in the next couple of days. The Manchester United winger is a £12million target for Monaco, Galatasaray and Napoli. Talks over a new deal at United have stalled amid speculation linking him with a move away. It is not yet clear whether he has a place in new boss Moyes’ plans. And the Portuguese star, 26, said: “I have not yet decided where I am going or if I am going. “I do not want to speak about rumours but I will decide my future in the next few days.”
Demba Ba heading out of Stamford Bridge
Demba Ba faces Chelsea axe as Jose Mourinho looks to shake up striker options (Matt Law, Sunday Mirror) Demba Ba faces a fight to save his Chelsea career after just five months at Stamford Bridge. And captain John Terry is not expecting any special favours from boss Jose Mourinho over his long-term Chelsea future. Striker Ba will be a surprise casualty of Mourinho’s return to Chelsea unless he can dramatically change his new manager’s mind. Mourinho is on the hunt for strikers. Chelsea are still trying to push through a deal for Bayer Leverkusen forward Andre Schurrle. They will bid for Wayne Rooney if Manchester United decide to sell. They have also registered interest in Edinson Cavani, Stevan Jovetic and Hulk while Romelu Lukaku has also been promised he will be given a chance. As a result Fernando Torres will be allowed to leave Stamford Bridge if Chelsea can find a buyer.
Liverpool want Mignolet
Liverpool want Mignolet to replace Reina as Spaniard refuses to commit his future (Joe Bernstein, Daily Mail) Liverpool will step up efforts to sign Sunderland No 1 Simon Mignolet after mixed messages from current goalkeeper Pepe Reina about his own future. Reina has been linked with a move back to his first club Barcelona and Belgian international Mignolet would be a cheaper replacement at £7million that Stoke’s impressive Asmir Begovic who is valued at £12million. Reina has insisted speculation about his future is not a distraction but would only say he is committed to Liverpool ‘right now’.
Fellaini staying at Everton
Fellaini staying put (David Facey, Sunday Sun) New Everton boss Roberto Martinez insists Marouane Fellaini is going nowhere.
The Belgian midfielder is wanted by Arsenal, who are keen to trigger his £22million release clause, and has also been linked with Chelsea and Manchester United. But Martinez said: “I don’t think it is an issue. “You are not talking about a player who is out of the squad or in negotiations with another club. I won’t look to speak to him about this because there is nothing to speak about. “What I want is him to be ready for the next season, to be ready to take an important role at the club and understand that it is a big season for him. “As an individual, he has got an exciting year in front of him and I don’t think he is personally thinking, ‘Am I going to be here?’ I don’t think that’s in his head.”
West Ham want Bony
West Ham turn sights on Wilfried Bony after fearing snub from Andy Carroll (Jason Burt, Sunday Telegraph) West Ham, who failed with a bid for Sevilla’s Alvaro Negredo last week, have already held talks with Bony’s representatives about a possible move, although they are not the only Premier League club interested in the prolific 24-year-old Ivory Coast international, who was the Eredivisie’s top-scorer last season with 31 goals. Stoke City had been thought to be favourites to sign Bony. The departure of Tony Pulis as manager may have changed their plans, although his replacement, Mark Hughes, is in the market for a striker. If West Ham fail to secure Bony, they have also given consideration to making bids for either Stuttgart’s Martin Harnik, an Austrian international who can play on the wing, and Eintracht Frankfurt’s Algerian international Karim Matmour. Harnik, 25, has three years left on his deal and West Ham considered making a move for him last January.
Is Stuart Pearce the worst England manager ever?
Stuart Pearce’s England Under-21s eliminated after defeat by Norway (Stuart James, Observer) The only thing missing was a Norwegian commentator shouting into his microphone: “Your boys took one hell of a beating.” This result may not go down in history in quite the same way as that famous Norway victory over Ron Greenwood’s senior side in Oslo in 1981 but it was a humiliating defeat for England Under‑21s nonetheless. Vanquished by a far superior Italy side in the opening group game, England turned in another hugely disappointing performance against Norway and can now pack their bags in preparation for a return flight home after Tuesday’s final group game against Israel in Jerusalem. So much for England getting lucky with the draw and avoiding the leading nations. Stuart Pearce’s side have been eliminated from these finals at the earliest opportunity and, with the manager’s contract up at the end of the month, this will surely bring an end to his six-year reign.
Henry Winter’s match report (Sunday Telegraph) Norway loosened up for this deserved victory by going surfing in the gentle breakers outside their Tel Aviv hotel and then expertly showed England’s players the way back to the beach, the holiday beach. Norway were more organized, more hungry, more alert defensively and quicker of thought and movement going forward. England’s new wave were embarrassed and embarrassing. The tide is certainly running against Stuart Pearce. It is impossible to see how the Under-21s coach can retain the faith of the FA after this wretched tournament record here in Israel of played two, outplayed two. Pearce was typically defiant afterwards, stating he wanted to extend his six-year association with the young Lions but a new chairman, the incoming Greg Dyke, will surely seek a new start.
On Jose’s return
José Mourinho, Chelsea and the English game all need a revival act (Paul Wilson, Observer) City would have represented a fresh challenge for him too, whereas Chelsea feels like a backward step. Returning to England at all is possibly a backward step, since Germany and Spain are setting the Champions League pace at the moment. When Mourinho first turned up at Chelsea, a job in England was his prize for winning the Champions League with Porto. Rafael Benítez arrived at Liverpool at the same time, after winning the Uefa Cup with Valencia. Chelsea won the league at the first attempt, and might have reached the Champions League final too but for Luis García’s phantom goal in the semi-final and a Liverpool side destined to overturn all the odds in Europe that year. Despite Mourinho’s claims to the contrary, the Premier League is not quite at that level any more. The talent is elsewhere, the excitement has moved on. Roman Abramovich would have preferred Pep Guardiola, and Mourinho knows it, but the former Barcelona coach preferred Germany. Second choice and second time around, Mourinho might still be the man to supervise a Chelsea revival and shake up a rather staid London scene, though behind the warmth of the welcome it is possible to sense a slightly desperate desire to turn the clock back too. That is a lot to ask of any coach. Even a special one.
Harry Redknapp on QPR
Let me buy who I want for QPR and I’ll carry the can if it goes wrong (Harry Redknapp, Sunday Sun) As manager of QPR, who have just been relegated, I am not looking for loads of cash to throw at the transfer market. All I want the owners of the club to do is back my judgment. I do not want to spend all their money either. I don’t have to. But the one thing I am asking for is to be given the authority to make the decisions about which players we go for. Then I know it’s been my handiwork and my ideas. And also if it goes badly wrong then it is nobody else’s fault except mine — and I will take full responsibility for it. When I was last in the Championship, with Ports-mouth, we did not chuck money at transfers. What we invested in were characters. The likes of Paul Merson, Arjan de Zeeuw, Tim Sherwood and Steve Stone. Players coming to the end of their careers but who still had that hunger to want to achieve something. Players who could back me up and get us playing the right football — and to win matches of course.