Manchester City splash the big-bucks for Samuel Eto’o, trouble brews in the Arsenal boardroom & Michael Owen’s Greek exit

Comment & analysis round-up

Quote of the day: “Eto’o has a stratospheric offer from City, which would convert him into the best-paid player in the world. It’s starting to become clear that he has this monster offer. He wants to stay but an offer like this is very difficult to refuse. If Eto’o accepts this stratospheric offer, we will have to bring in someone. If Eto’o accepts Manchester City’s mammoth offer, we will need another striker.” – Barcelona’s president, Joan Laporta.

Runner-up: “Between them Cristiano and Carlos scored a lot of goals for us last season and the season before, but I would like to think I’m capable of filling that gap. I’ve said before that, if I can play in my right position, I’m capable of doing that. I want to play in the position where I feel I’m best. A lot of people think I’m best as a centre forward. To play in a Champions League final and to play week in, week out for Manchester United is a privilege and it’s something I’m very lucky to be doing, but I don’t think playing on the wing I can express myself as much as I like to.” – Wayne Rooney.

Today’s overview: Manchester City’s recruitment drive is quickly spinning into overdrive with news that Samuel Eto’o is firmly in Mark Hughes’ sight.

According to Daniel Taylor, “Manchester City have made a formal £25.5m bid for the Barcelona striker Samuel Eto’o and put together a ‘stratospheric offer’ to make him the highest-paid player in English football… [Eto’o] will earn a weekly salary in the region of £180,000.” The figures alter slightly in The Times where James Ducker reports “City will match Barcelona’s asking price of about £25 million for Eto’o and have agreed to pay the striker in the region of £200,000 a week… the deal could be worth more than £66 million in total.”

Antony Kastrinakis takes the story to the extreme in The Sun bleating “City have offered to make Samuel Eto’o the world’s highest-paid player – on £250,000 A WEEK! The Barcelona striker will earn £13million a year if the £25m switch goes through.” However, running against the grain Richard Tanner barks back that while “City have tabled a £25million bid for long-time target Samuel Eto’o but played down claims they have offered to make him the world’s best-paid player… City insiders say that even though they are the richest club on the planet thanks to the backing of their oil-wealthy Abu Dhabi owners, they would not sanction that sort of mind-boggling contract.”

Outside of the Eto’o deal, Sam Wallace suggests that City may break the bank in the next few days. “City are determined that their major transfer business will be out of the way by the weekend when they depart to South Africa on a pre-season tour. They hope that will also mean deals for Carlos Tevez at around £25.5m, Joleon Lescott from Everton for £15m and Kolo Touré from Arsenal for £12m.”

Taking a step backwards, Alan Nixon wonders what City’s starting line up will be next season. “Bellamy was an over-the-top £12 million buy… Valeri Bjoinov and Felipe Caicedo should either be onto their agents and keeping an eye on the draw for the Carling Cup… Stephen Ireland – their Player of the Year – Shaun Wright-Phillips and Martin Petrov [will be] squabbling for one place in the all-star line-up… Vincent Kompany was and may be wondering where he stands in the new big picture.”

Looking at the sale of Eto’o from Barcelona’s perspective, Jason Burt points out how the Catalans “want to make a move for David Villa having already bid for the Brazilian striker Keirrison and have not given up on Franck Ribery either.”

Finally on the Eto’o transfer saga, the fifth estate whip out their claws as hacks fight it out to claim the glory of scooping the scoop. A typical faceless article in the Daily Mail crows “as revealed by Sportsmail earlier this month, the two clubs have agreed a £25m fee for the Cameroon international.” However not to be outdone Jason Burt proves even more specific in the Telegraph boasting “Telegraph Sport revealed on April 28 that City had lined up a significant bid for Eto’o with Barca president Joan Laporta flying to London to hold talks with City chief executive Garry Cook.”

The Times splash today with Oliver Kay scooping an exclusive interview with Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney to talk about life post Ronaldo and Tevez, while in a supplementary article Oliver Kay contrasts Rooney with Ronaldo. “Ronaldo has spent much of the past fortnight in Los Angeles, cosying up to Paris Hilton, wearing flowers in his hair, turning a darker shade of mahogany and parading a pair of shorts that are tighter than a coat of emulsion. By contrast, a baggy-shorted Rooney has been lying low in the shade, keeping an eye on his freckles, fetching water for his pregnant wife, Coleen, and mulling over and over United’s defeat by Barcelona in the Champions League final in Rome a month ago.”

Keeping with United, Alan Nixon scrawls “Luis Antonio Valencia flew in last night to complete his dream £16million move to Manchester United – and end Sir Alex Ferguson’s wait for a first signing of the summer.”

Trouble is brewing at Arsenal as a clash of ideologies between self-sufficiency and dipping into debt takes hold in the boardroom.

Writing confidently, Dominic Fifield spouts the Arsenal board will resist any attempt by Alisher Usmanov to underwrite a £100m rights issue. Over in the Telegraph though, Jeremy Wilson suggests that the rights issue may be approved noting that the idea is “aimed at freeing up transfer funds for Arsene Wenger… [in which] the key issue for directors would be whether a rights issue would fit with the club’s long-term model of self-sustainability.”

All the papers (including the Independent) report on how Germany have opted to play in red ahead of the Under-21 European Championship final with England on Monday. However, only Steve Tongue is able to sit down with Young Lions captain Mark Noble ahead of the showpiece final. Noble: “Whenever you play Germany it is always a massive game. I’m pretty sure it’s the same between Argentina and Brazil. I remember Carlos Tevez in our [West Ham] dressing-room and he was late one day. The forfeit was to pay a large amount of money or wear a Brazil shirt. He chose the money.”

The Americans are caught licking their wounds after losing the Confederations Cup final with Brazil.

Grahame L. Jones assesses the lessons from South Africa including “Bradley learned that goalkeeper Tim Howard is every bit the shot-stopper that predecessors Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel were… Jay DeMerit makes a very useful partner for Oguchi Onyewu… [and] that using Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey as wide midfielders is a positive option.” By contrast, The New York Times’ Jere Longman is a little more downbeat this Monday. “There were superb moments for the Americans on Sunday: Jonathan Spector’s 40-yard pass and Dempsey’s volley in the 10th minute for a 1-0 American lead. A searing counterattack in the 27th minute that finished with a fierce sprint and left-footed goal by Donovan, showing why he has become a world-class player. In the end, though, Brazil was simply a little better, a little longer.”

Patrick Reilly sits down with David O’Leary in an effort to help raise the Irishman’s profile to get a job back in football. “Suffice to say, he’s not been short of suitors or admirers. If he does require a reference,  he can count on the respect of the ‘Special One’ and that of England coach Fabio Capello.”

Finally, the rest of the transfer news/gossip/lies.

Great news for Hammers fans this Monday as the Independent print “Eidur Gudjohnsen looks likely to return to the English football, with the Barcelona forward favouring a move to West Ham to reunite with former strike partner Gianfranco Zola.”

The Daily Mail make a splash reporting “Olympiakos have launched an audacious attempt to sign Michael Owen. The Greek club are offering Owen Champions League football and a bumper wage packet to quit the Premier League and resurrect his career in Athens ahead of next year’s World Cup.” Jeremy Butler gives a bit more background to this story explaining that “Olympiakos have already landed Blackburn striker Matt Derbyshire and paid £2.5m for ex-Aston Villa defender Olof Mellberg from Juventus.” Yet, over in The Sun Adam Simmons talks up Hull’s interest in Owen, printing “the ambitious Tigers are willing to smash their wage structure and hand the former Liverpool star a deal worth up to £60,000 a week.”

According to Simon Bird, “Everton are tracking £5million Sweden’s under-21 striker Marcus Berg after his heroics in the current tournament.” Over in the Daily Mail though the price for Berg’s amazingly doubles as Matt Barlow coughs “Everton are interested in Marcus Berg, Sweden’s goal sensation at the European Under 21 Championship, though Ajax are expected to make a £10m bid to sign him from Dutch club Groningen.”

Sadly the Daily Mail hack failed to ignore the fact that Ajax coach Martin Jol was quoted on Sunday saying “I do not know where this story comes from. It is always in one or two newspapers but it simply isn’t going to happen.” (IMScouting)