Comment & analysis round-up
Quote of the day: “I am very proud and thankful for the interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid. It’s good for me to have these two teams interested in me. Both teams are very important but at this moment I think that Barcelona is a little bit better and that’s why they’ve won all that they have.” – Javier Mascherano.
Runner-up: “I don’t think [Newcastle] are going to offer me a contract and I would prefer to play in the Premier League or a top division somewhere else. The Premier League is where I feel I belong â€¦ so if it was to be a good English club, that would be my preference, but I have had quite a lot of interest from abroad, so I wouldn’t rule that out… I will play well and score goals and do all these things once more. Someone will always Âcriticise you, no matter what. If I let that affect me, I would never be where I am today.” – Michael Owen.
Today’s overview: Setanta’s out and ESPN-Disney are in. With the Irish broadcaster’s rights to broadcast Premier League matches now snapped up by the American TV giants, the position of Setanta’s long-term survival as a company is in doubt.
On the encouraging side James Robinson and Owen Gibson notes “sources close to Setanta said talks about salvaging the business were Âcontinuing and it is thought that executives are Âtrying to save the company’s Âinternational Âbusinesses, in Ireland and north ÂAmerica. Both are believed to be profitable or Âforecast to move into the black soon, but it is unclear whether those businesses can be hived off.”
By contrast, the Independent’s Nick Clark is far less optimistic. “The loss of its two biggest football packages is likely to decimate the group’s 1.2 million subscribers, many of whom will quit the broadcaster, even assuming it can survive this crisis.”
Marcello Lippi made public that the Italian team which embarrassingly exited the Confederations Cup is “as good as it gets,” Italy could use some freshening up in certain positions. Balotelli would have made a difference up front… but the real problem is in defence… There really isnâ€™t that much coming through the pipeline, at least in certain positions.”
There are more reported movements behind the scenes at Liverpool as the Reds look to meet their financial obligations to repay their debt. As explained by Andy Hunter, “Liverpool expect the appointment of Christian Purslow as managing director will benefit Tom Hicks’ and George Gillett’s attempts to extend their Â£350m refinancing deal with the Royal Bank of Scotland.”
On the playing side of things, Colin Wood details the latest transfer shenanigans in the Daily Mail. “Real Madrid have made a renewed bid for Liverpool midfielder Xabi Alonso and expect to sign him in a Â£30million deal. The move comes just hours after Liverpool agreed a Â£17m deal for Portsmouth full-back Glen Johnson ahead of competition from Chelsea. And that will signal the Â£8million departure of Alvaro Arbeloa to Real Madrid too.”
And it also seems that Javier Mascherano is forcing a move away from Anfield. Phil Thomas announced that “Liverpool will have to more than double Javier Mascherano’s wages to keep him at Anfield.” The Argentine’s greed strengthens in the Mirror where David Maddock claims Liverpool will need “to TREBLE Javier Mascheranoâ€™s wages to keep him. Mirror Sport understands that the root of the Argentineâ€™s unhappiness at Anfield is the fact that he is paid considerably less than the majority of the ability to set up chances for the former England star.”
Manchester United are gearing up to sign a Brazilian, or is that three Brazilians?
The Times’ big splash, delivered by James Ducker, claims “Manchester United have opened talks with Gremio about signing Douglas Costa… Ferguson is confident of signing the player this summer… United are also understood to have agreed a Â£5.5 million deal with Corinthians for Dodo, a 17-year-old defender who is expected to join the club next February.” Yet over in The Mirror a third Brazilian is linked to Old Trafford by James Nursey. “Nilmar is being tracked by Manchester United as they weigh up a Â£20million bid.”
Moving onto Chelsea, and Gary Jacob reports how the West Londoners are beginning to get frustrated with their main Russian target. “Chelsea will try to conclude a deal to sign Yuri Zhirkov to end a frustrating start to the transfer window. The club have failed to secure some targets because of an unwillingness to pay what they deem excessive transfer fees or wages.” The Zhirkov deal is also set to be close to conclusion according to Andrew Warshaw, who adds “Chelsea have also been given the green light to bid for AC Milan midfielder Andrea Pirlo… [while] Porto defender Bruno Alves has paved the way for a possible move to Chelsea after his father said he will leave the Portuguese club.”
Antony Kastrinakis keeps the spotlight on the Blues claiming “Chelsea last night swung their attention to Â£25million Brazilian Maicon Douglas.” While the outlandish Chelsea transfer lie of the day is served up by Danny Fullbrook farting “Chelsea are ready to offload Didier Drogba to AC Milan as part of a deal to lure Alexandre Pato to Stamford Bridge.”
How many strikers did Manchester City sign on Monday? Two, according to Neil Custis, who blurts “City have completed the Â£40million signing of Carlos Tevez and Roque Santa Cruz.”
With City now boasting an over-populated forward-line, does Craig Bellamy have a future. Yes, according to Mark Ogden who says the fiery Welshman is the only current striker who is “likely to have a long-term future among City’s current forward line.” Not so, says Sam Wallace, challenging that “Craig Bellamy’s future must be in serious doubt now just six months after he joined from West Ham and the likes of Valeri Bojinov, Jo, Felipe Caicedo and Benjani Mwaruwari are all available for the right price.”
Sam Wallace investigates who Blackburn will turn to as replacements. “[Rovers] will now turn their attentions to a replacement with Valencia’s 6ft 7in Serbian international Nikola Zigic and Kevin Davies of Bolton Wanderers among their targets.”
A faceless article in the Daily Express forecasts several transfers, both in and out, at Arsenal. “Arsene Wenger is ready to sell Adebayor for Â£20million and bid for Bordeaux striker Marouane Chamakh, with Brazilian midfielder Felipe Melo also keen to join the Gunners.” Similarly, a faceless article in The Sun claims “Didier Zokora is a target for Atletico Madrid, Sunderland and Sevilla.”
In the remaining transfer lies, Darren Lewis spouts that Fulham, Aston Villa, Everton and West Ham are all tracking Barcelona striker Eidur Gudjohnsen, The Mirror link Nicklas Bendtner and Roman Pavlyuchenko to Roma, Alan Nixon claims “Aston Villa boss Martin O’Neill is ready to swoop for Valencia’s Portugal right-back Miguel Monteiro in a surprise Â£5million raid,” and lastly Tim Gray reports that “Gabriel Heinze has opened the door for Spurs to make a move to sign him during the summer.”