Another Sheikh-up in the Premier League, as Gillett sells up his hockey to keep Liverpool afloat

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Eto’o is the best striker in the world, highly valued in the market. It would be nice if he could finish his career at Barca. His contract ends next season and that requires us to sit and talk. The club wants him to continue for many more years, always in line with our wage structure.” – Barcelona president Joan Laporta.

Runner-up: “Karim [Benzema] is on holiday at the moment and he is not thinking of moving. He wants to stay in France for another year so that he can prepare for the World Cup and I think that Sir Alex knows this. Perhaps he wants to make an offer to Lyon. If that happens, then Karim will think about it, but as things stand, Karim wants to stay with Lyon for another year.” – Karim Djaziri, Benzema’s agent.

Today’s overview: Another week and another takeover of a Premier League club by a Sheikh.

Stuart James reports how “a member of a ruling family in the United Arab Emirates has bought a majority stake in a Premier League club, the official Emirates News Agency has reported. The agency did not name the club but said that Sheikh Ahmed bin Saqr al-Qassimi has bought 60% of it, adding that details would be announced at a press conference this week.” If the story turns out to be true, Paul Kelso notes that the majority of the Premier League clubs will fall under foreign ownership, although it is pointed out that “a Premier League spokesman said they had no knowledge of an imminent takeover.”

On Sunday news broke that Liverpool owner George Gillett had agreed to sell his stake in the Montreal Canadiens to help steady the ship at Anfield. Today the Sun’s Dean Jones is found shouting from the rooftops that “George Gillett has pulled off a stunning deal in America to rescue Liverpool from a financial nightmare.”

However, the consensus opinion on the impact of the deal is played down in the broadsheets. Benitez may struggle to keep some of his best players… a summer that Steven Gerrard, the captain, described as ‘crucial’ to Liverpool’s hopes of winning the Barclays Premier League title next season is already turning into something of a nightmare.” A similar conclusion is reached by Mark Ogden, noting “despite the sale of the Canadiens, uncertainty still surrounds the futures of Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano.”

Finally it appears that Roque Santa Cruz will make his long awaited move from Blackburn. James Ducker reports that “City are on the verge of ending their tortuous pursuit of the player in a deal that could be worth up to £18 million with add-ons… City hope to follow up the impending signing of Santa Cruz with the £50 million capture of Samuel Eto’o.” While the Eto’o transfer is speculative, Alan Nixon confidently barked “Carlos Tevez agreed to join Manchester City TWO WEEKS ago – and will complete the £47.5 million transfer in the next few days.”

With news breaking that Karim Benzema may end up staying with Lyon, Mark Ogden drudges up the Frenchman’s negatives to placate United fans. “For all of Benzema’s potential, reputation and Champions League experience, however, he lacks the fear factor that Tevez and Ronaldo, in particular, held over opponents at the highest level.”

Pulling up memories of groundhog day the top transfer scoop in the Telegraph sees Jason Burt blurt that Andrea Pirlo’s Chelsea move is back on the table. “AC Milan have been in contact with Chelsea to try and revive a deal,” we learn. However, over in the Independent, Ian Herbert lays out the Blues’ transfer plans for the next seven days. “Chelsea’s main efforts this week will be concentrated on bringing Bayern Munich’s Frank Ribery to Stamford Bridge, with owner Roman Abramovich not tempted by Carlos Tevez’s release from Manchester United into launching a bid to beat Manchester City to his services.”

Sweeping up the rest of the transfer gossip, the Independent link Fulham with a move for Valencia’s Fernando Morientes, Matt Barlow claims “new Sunderland manager Steve Bruce is poised to try and steal Fraizer Campbell from under the noses of Hull City,” while staying with the Tigers George Scott prints “Phil Brown wants to hijack Quinton Fortune’s move to Ipswich.” Lastly, The Mirror publicise that “Blackburn target Jerome Rothen is ready to fly in for talks with Sam Allardyce as he prepares to quit French giants Paris Saint-Germain.”

Reflecting the slim-picking on offer this Monday for footie fans, the usually excellent